This weekend I read a post on Facebook that really started me thinking about our promises and how our behavior can affect them in many ways.
We are called to care for the widows and orphans. (James 1:27). In fact, in James, caring for the widows and orphans is called "pure and defiled religion." We are to keep ourselves undefiled from the world. We are to be separate from what the world does so the world is able to differentiate the disciples of Christ from the rest of the world. We cannot be selfish and self-serving to do that. I am sure we all have seen the "good samaritan" friends that have a photo attached to something that might begin like this "we are so blessed to be able to..."
We are called to "good works." We are all called to minister to those less fortunate. We are called to care for "the least of these." (Matthew 25:31-46). HOWEVER, We are not called to shout from the rooftops what we do to the least of these. We are not called to shout from the rooftops when we do good and charitable deeds.
Matthew 6:1-4 says:
Matthew 6:1-4 Take heed that you do not do your merciful deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in Heaven. (2) Therefore when you do your merciful deeds, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. (3) But when you do merciful deeds, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, (4) so that your merciful deeds may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret Himself shall reward you openly.
It is in our human nature to seek approval from those around us. Our pride and our egos want to be stroked. We want people to know what good people we are by telling everyone what good things we have done for those around us. It can be difficult sometimes to keep our mouths shut about the things we do because we want that gratification of kudos. When we "sound a trumpet" about the good things we have done, we have decided we need the credit, the glory and the praise. We are removing the opportunity for our King to receive the glory and honor that is due to Him as our King and Savior. We are no better than hypocrites or the Pharisees who are seeking to show everyone how holy they are. (Matthew 6:5). In each of the scriptures, Jesus said those that promote themselves for men to glory at their works already have their reward. When we do our good deeds and "don't let our left hand know what our right hand does" then we bring the glory and honor to God the Father. When we keep quiet, or secret, about the things we do, then He will see to it that we are rewarded openly for men to see.
But that brings up another question: Do we do charitable works to get the reward? No. We do the charitable deeds because we are disciples of Christ and we are seeking His righteousness. We are growing the fruit of the Spirit within us (Galatians 5:16-23). As we are cultivating and tending to the fruit within us, charitable deeds should become second nature and just a part of who we are and what we do. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control, patience... all those things will grow within us as we seek the will of the Father and we will begin to show our fruit. We will then be known as His disciples and He will get the glory and honor and praise for what we do. It is a thin line we walk every day between wanting approval from man and pleasing God with what we do. The intents of heart are known only by God. What we feed is what we grow. If we feed our pride and selfishness so that we may have approval from men, then that is what will grow. If we feed the spirit from which love and kindness and goodness grows, then we will produce the characteristics that Christ showed to the sinners and those that were suffering.
In this age of selfies and social media our society is laying out there everything about their lives for the world to see. We have become self promotors and lovers of self instead of God lovers. We need to get back to basics and remember that the Pharisees and hypocrits promot themselves to receive the glory and praise for themselves. Let's not be guilty of falling into that trap of the enemy.
Lord, we know we are not perfect people. We do desire to see that you receive all the glory and honor and praise. We ask that you show us our hearts and the things that are in it that are not a part of you. Give us the strength and wisdom to remove the things that do not belong. Send your Holy Spirit to us as a gentle reminder of your goodness, kindness and love so that we can represent you to a lost and dying world in a manner that brings you glory and honor. Thank you Father for your love, grace, and mercy. In the name of Jesus, amen.
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