Immediately after the part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that we read yesterday (about loving our enemies), Jesus tells us to be careful about making a performance of our generosity, prayer and care for others.
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says:
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Jesus isn’t saying that our faith should be a secret. At the beginning of the same sermon, he says, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16) Jesus is drawing our focus to our motivations and toward where we look for our approval.
Questions to consider:
When I help someone or when I serve at church, am I trying to get approval or affirmation from someone?
Do I need attention to make serving seem worthwhile? Why is that?
Are there parts of my relationship with God that are only between me and God? What are they?
An action step to take:
Think of a dirty job that you usually avoid but needs to be done and commit to doing it today.
Serve without drawing attention to yourself and check in with God afterward (instead of sharing it with someone else).
We are on a journey together to build a habit of selfless living. Full info for 21 Days of Selfless Living is at www.wschurch.org/21days.