Have you ever known or seen people perform good deeds just to get noticed? We encourage children to do good deeds out of the kindness of their hearts, but this is not a good alternative. What if there is no kindness in someone’s heart or a person simply tires of being a good person? This is a devastating problem our current culture faces today. People’s ears are stiff and dry. No longer does the saying, “doing good for goodness sake” work anymore. Ingratitude, misplaced recognition and bad experiences create the perfect, bad storm for the coldness in people’s hearts. People are either no longer receptive to giving or give for all the wrong reasons.
In this blog post, it is the latter. Newspapers and websites overflow with scandals and documentaries about greedy pastors and congregation members exhorting money from the church. Luckily, Jesus foresaw these events and He witnessed such self righteous behavior in His time. His conversations with the Pharisees demonstrates humanity’s love for recognition and to be held in high esteem.
Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:1-4,
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
These few verses illustrate how a carnal Christian hungers after attention. His relationship with God is secondary to meeting his or her’s desire to receiving the very glory, only God deserves. This is why Jesus begins this subject by stating, “Be careful..”. “Be careful,” wait, stop, do not act so hastily.
A Christian must live a careful life. Carelessness means to live life without any respect towards it. The mature Christian knows life has perils and difficulties and a person does not want any extra hardship, then he or she must live wisely. We are called to be cautious only the fool waltzes into every situation without thinking. Our actions have consequences and if we’re not careful, our carelessness and selfish attitude can cause people to look upon the Christian faith disapprovingly. Many people do not know the intricacies of the Christian faith, only the stereotypical people shown on television. It is our duty to be set apart from the world, people know we’re Christians through our behavior. Although a person may not always tell you, whether they think you’re a good believer or not, people will privately judge you and indirectly your faith. Similarly, parents are very strict about their child’s behavior, especially in public. As parent, many understand a child’s behavior reflects how they’re raising them. (At certain ages children grow to be more accountable for their actions.) However, temper tantrums in public creates negative, unwanted attention, and several parents feel embarrassment over their child’s uncontrollable outburst. Likewise, God does not want to be embarrassed. He does not want any child of His bringing filth and dishonor to His heavenly kingdom and royal family.
More importantly, we should have more respect towards our new family. So how dishonorable is it when modern day Christians perform righteous acts, so they may receive praise and glory? Yes, God’s Word calls Christians to perform righteous acts, but it is not about us or our salvation. Salvation cannot be earned or kept. First, eternal life is permanent the moment a person accepts Christ into their life. Second, righteous deeds reveal our standing with God—we perform works of faith to build our faith, to pursue a holy life, and to bring attention to the Lord God. Picture this: The greatest concert of your life is being held by your greatest and most favorite artist, adding more enjoyment, you managed to score front row seats. You’re super excited, and what stands between you and your favorite musician is a mediocre opening act. After their allotted stage time, the opening act refuses to leave and continues to play on. Everyone is aghast. The opening band’s sheer audacity to retain attention is mind boggling, you did not come to see them, and their glory hogging ways puts everyone at a dissatisfaction. In spite of millions of people, not knowing what they need is the Lord God, who are we to take away the greatest and most crucial heavenly concert of their lives? As Christians, humility is a difficult, painful spiritual fruit to reap, yet it is so necessary. Our humility is the key, so others can experience unlimited joy with Christ Jesus. Like John the Baptist, Jesus’s forerunner he tells his disciple as they watch Christ baptize the crowd (after John baptizes Him),
“30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 KJV)
The sheer humility is deep in John. He did what God created him to do and what greater glory is a servant’s obedience. John was the key for other disciples to follow Christ Jesus, yet how many Christians are not keys, but door locks to people’s salvation?
God’s favor rests upon the humble, those acknowledging their obedience to God is greater than their need for acknowledgment. I cannot count on my hands how many pastors and elders and churches have led their flock astray. Taking their money to buy jets, expensive gold watches and chains, expressing the prosperity gospel all in the name of Jesus Christ. As Jesus says these people have received their reward, which is the wealth and glory in the eyes of man.
Furthermore, almost everyone professes they want a greater, stronger relationship with God, yet very few take the strides. There is a level of intimacy and vulnerability required to be with God, yet people’s true colors are revealed through their behavior. Believers deny their glory hogging ways, so we can maintain our sweet fellowship with God, which is more important. A sign of maturity is cheerfully giving without receiving compensation or gratitude. Pride demands recognition. Humility demands denial of self.
Jesus says, “…do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret.” Metaphorically, Jesus’ message means do it instinctively and depend on the Holy Spirit to carry out the virtue. Do not let your flesh know you give to the poor, offer godly advice, or daily drive a coworker home. Do not give your flesh the opportunity to puff itself up with pride, if you do a good deed, immediately give glory to God and think nothing of it. We must start treating righteous acts the same way we perform natural acts, if we make a big deal out of them, then it is quick for us to attribute the glory to ourselves. Keep righteous acts a secret and rest in the wonderful truth that God sees what we do. His Spirit empowers us to do the right thing and He rewards those seeking approval and praise from Him.
What is done in secret is not a secret kept from God. He cherishes this intimacy. He blesses children of God living godly lives out of love and responsibility. At the day’s end, it all comes down to a crossroad, whose love and approval do you hold higher in your heart: God or man.
Copyright © 2018 by A Meeting at the Well