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Authenticity
Matthew 6:1-18 

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"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] "When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. [3] "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [4] that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

[5] "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. [6] "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. [7] "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. [8] "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. [9] "Pray, then, in this way:

'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. [10] 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. [11] 'Give us this day our daily bread. [12] 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. [13] 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]' [14] "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. [16] "And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. [17] "But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face [18] so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

Immediately after Jesus set the standard for the Christian's behavior in Matthew 5:13-48, He emphasizes the importance of authenticity in the Christian's lifestyle in Matthew 6:1-18. It isn't good enough to live right, Jesus calls His followers to authentic living. Not the kind of righteousness religious men demonstrate, but a genuine, authentic righteousness. 

He contrasts self righteousness with authentic righteousness in this passage. There is a difference between prayer for show and heartfelt prayer. There is a difference between heartfelt stewardship and giving to get men's recognition. And there is a difference between keeping religious vows like fasting as a "religious obligation" and as a result of an authentic relationship with Christ.

Does authenticity matter? William Shatner, forever etched in the public mind as the futuristic Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek is the highly visible spokesman for Priceline.com, he admits, "The truth of the matter is that I don't know how to operate a computer." Shatner says he has been involved in some Internet chats, but "I had someone typing my answers for me. I'm a second-hand user of technology. I'm not a fan." (Http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html) Does it matter to you that Shatner is the spokersperson for something he knows nothing about?

How do you spot real authenticity? Sometimes a forgery is easy to spot. Like the time Western Union became suspicious of a young dockworker who tried to cash a check made out to "Roadway Express," a shipping company in Dallas. When asked for an ID, the 18-year-old produced an ID with the name Mr. "Roadway V. Express."

The manager at Western Union asked him to wait while he got him his money. He went in the back and called the police.
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