Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

February 20th, 2014

Read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The woman at the cash register stared at the black smudge on my forehead as I swiped my credit card. Curiosity finally got the better of her. “What’s that black mark on your forehead? Here’s a tissue to help you get it off.”

“It’s OK,” I said. “It’ll wear off soon enough.” The Ash Wednesday mark was still on my brow. I had come to the grocery story on my way home and almost forgotten the cross of ashes that marked me. The ordinary task of grocery buying crashed in on my Ash Wednesday reflection. Voices from speakers in the store barking out specials began to drown out, “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” And nothing remained but a black smudge.

Jesus’ warning to “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them” hits me right between the eyes. Is the cross I wear an outward piety easily wiped away with a tissue, or is it a sign for the world that my life, all that I am, all I have, all I do, belongs to Christ? The hypocrite in the room might just be me. Or could it be you?

There is a false “piety” in today’s culture that is mocked for its outward show. True piety is found in the inward transformation of a life, the inner secret heart that spends itself in love and praise of God and humble service to humankind and all creation.

In this Lenten journey that begins today, locate your heart in the treasure that is Christ. Journey to a place that rises up from dust and ash to the reward that is Christ.

Lord, take the outward mark of ash inward and mark my heart again as yours. May my outward way so reflect your inward light that the world will not question whose I am. Amen.

excerpted from: Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions 2014 Copyright©2013 by Upper Room Books. Used with permission.

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