True Righteousness

How can we discern between true and fake righteousness? In ourselves and others? What motivates fake righteousness? True Righteousness? How can we examine our hearts before God to be righteous in God’s sight?


Matt 6:1-4





False vs. True Righteousness





  • Examine our hearts and service before God
  • Identify activities with incorrect motives
  • Reset goals to please God

Seek and achieve eternal rewards

Bible Passage

Matt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 

False righteousness

Matt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; 

Position: For whom, where, when, how do we portray our righteousness?

Whom – The elite, crowds, rich, family, regular associates?

Where – boards, committees, church, home, neighbourhood, office?

When – convenient, comfortable, all the time?

How – Popular, cool, trendy, accepted?

Position - Exalted

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matt 23:12

Eg. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, tried to exalt himself to be equal to God and was brought right down to the ground.. till the day he acknowledged and bowed down to the power of God.

Intention - to please men

In Acts 12:1-3 – Herod arrests Peter to please the Jews

 Acts 25:9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?”


Galations 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Intention: Discern don’t judge

1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.


Intention flips the balance. With the right intention, the position and renumeration changes.

In what situation is pleasing men good with good intentions? (Eph 6:6, Romans 15:2)


In the New Testament we see Diotrephes after applause, publicity and control. (3 John 9)

In the Old Testament we see Gehazi, Elisha’s servant after popularity, identity and wealth ( 2 Kings 5:26,27)

True Righteousness

Matt 6:4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

For whom, where, when, how do we portray our righteousness?

Whom – God, unseen and unknown people?

Where – remote areas?

When – outside the comfort zone, alone?

How – serving others?

Position - Exalt Only God

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances should exult in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should exult in his low position, because he will pass away like a flower of the field

Position - Strategic

The Israelites always won, not through strong positions, but strategic positions. God has placed us strategically to be of most impact in our specific position.

Joshua 8:7 “And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.”


The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 ESV

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. Colossians 3:23-24,  NIV

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV

Contrast the reward in the two verses above


Romans 2:6 NIV God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


In public, in private, where do we measure up? Do we still wear masks?

False righteousness has the following traits:

  • Position – Before men
  • Intention – Honoured by men
  • Renumeration – From men

True rightousness on the other hand features:

  • Position – in silence, before God
  • Intention – Honoured by God
  • Renumeration – From God


1.What are good things that we can do for Christ with bad intentions and vice versa?

2.How can we assess our true motives when “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2

3.How can we tilt the scale and rip the masks when we are fundamentally sinful?

4.What are some checks and balances we can place in our lives to prevent wrong motives and be different?

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