Perfect Decoys (Matthew 6:1-18)

Sunday 08/11/2020

Operation Bodyguard was a part of the Allies’ plans to invade Nazi-occupied Europe on D-Day in 1944. Operation Neptune was the overall plan for D-Day, but Operation Bodyguard was a deception plan. It was intended to mislead the German military leadership over the time and place of the invasion.

From December 1943 to March 1944, while German forces were stretched along the European coast expecting an Allied attack, British and American forces deployed decoy boats and aircraft, inflatable tanks, and dummy parachuters to deceive their enemy. The plan worked. When D-Day came, the Germans were taken by surprise and their scramble to redeploy troops allowed the Allies victory.

At the end of Matthew 5, Jesus concludes the first section of the Sermon on the Mount by saying “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v48). If we are His followers, our character is not measured against the people around us. The standard Jesus gives us is God Himself, who is perfection itself.

We might see others around us and conclude that we’re not so bad. But when we’re compared to God, all but the least self-aware would realise that we cannot be perfect.

But we might be pretty good at fooling others. Like Operation Bodyguard, we can deploy dummy compassion, cardboard prayers, and bogus devotion. It’s decoy perfection. And people might fall for it.

Or, even if people do see through it, at least they won’t call our bluff. And Jesus warns us that this decoy perfection doesn’t work. Instead of receiving the reward our Heavenly Father gives, we’re left with an empty shell: human approval, which is here today and gone tomorrow.

So, what can we do? Jesus takes off our masks. He exposes our decoy perfection, our hypocrisy. But He doesn’t tell us not to worry about giving, or praying, or fasting. And He calls us to act out genuine devotion from a heart that knows the living God.

  1. Take Off The Mask (v1)
  2. Hide Your Giving From Yourself (v2-4)
  3. Pray Simply In Secret (v5-15)
  4. Fast So No One Knows (v16-18)

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Published by Stephen McDonald

Broadcaster, teacher, bibliophile, armchair political commentator, theologue, Christian (still in beta)