Day 1 (Ash Wednesday): Practising righteousness

Rev Martin Yee, Daily Devotions for Lent 2020 // February 26, 2020, 6:09 pm


As we embark on this season of Lent, maybe it is time to consider how our religious observances of prayer and fasting are fruits of our salvation, not conditions of it.

Bible reading for Ash Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020 | Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

During the Singpex Stamp Exhibition 2019, I visited a philatelic booth on a Saturday weekend and saw a bird stamp which I liked. But strangely there was no one in sight to sell it to me.

Looking more closely, I saw a note saying that the booth is closed for religious observance. I respected the decision of the proprietor of that booth whom, I guess, was probably a Jew. He was fulfilling his religious duty even though that day was best for his business.

Religious duties and observances, instead of being a condition of salvation, should become fruits of salvation.

Strangely, Jesus indicted the Jews for their religious observance – or rather their outward expression of it, which they thought would please God.

Giving of alms to the needy, prayer and fasting are good things in themselves. But God is more interested in the heart and motivation behind doing them.

Firstly, as Christians, we should know that God accepted us as His children without one plea or bargain but by grace through faith alone. While we are yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. We come to God as repentant beggars asking him for forgiveness of our sins.

Martin Luther said this so beautifully: “May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint! I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble and the ailing, who feel and recognise the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sins.”

Secondly, we need to get our priorities right. God looks at where our heart really is. We are to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. If our heart is not in the right place, God will reject what we do. 

Religious duties and observances, instead of being a condition of salvation, should become fruits of salvation. The Holy Spirit does His work in and through the Christians, bearing fruits for the glory of God and in service to our neighbours. Amen.


“Holy Spirit, search the inner recesses of our heart that we can discern what we truly treasure and where our heart really is. I ask that You forgive me for not putting You and Your kingdom as priority and seeking them first in my life.”


List things in your life that you currently treasure more than God and His kingdom. They could be persons, habits, hobbies, wealth or possessions. Ask God to help you release them one by one to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

This Lenten devotional is taken from the book, Give Up, Take Up, Follow Him! Daily Devotions for Lent 2020 and republished with permission from the Bible Society of Singapore. 

It is available here in English, Chinese, Hokkien, Tamil and Bahasa Indonesia. 

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About the author

Rev Martin Yee, Daily Devotions for Lent 2020

Rev Martin Yee is Assistant to Bishop Terry Kee, Lutheran Church in Singapore. Give Up, Take Up, Follow Him! is a collection of daily readings and reflections for Lent 2020. This is the 15th edition of the Lenten devotional, published by Sower Publishers, a ministry of The Bible Society of Singapore. It is commissioned by the National Council of Churches of Singapore.