Those of us who follow Jesus do good because we want the attention to be given to our Heavenly Father; not to us!
Matthew 6:1-4 says “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.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. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Here Jesus is not just talking to the ‘down and out’ and sinners of society. Here He has moved His focus and His attention toward the church goers; toward those that might consider themselves to be religious. What I see Jesus teaching us in this particular passage is that He is warning us not to be like the world. Here, He is saying I need you to examine your motives. Often times the biggest problem that the church has is that we are still trying to be the center of attention. We are still trying to be the ones on our own stage of life.
Jesus asks us to look at our own life and says the best thing that we can possibly do, is to just get over ourselves! He says that the only reward that we are ever going to get by making ourselves the center of attention is a quick pat on the back every once in a while; nothing more, nothing less.
The world likes to draw attention to itself when it does a good deed. Publicists are hired and people ‘spin’ and they do their best to make themselves look as good as possible; this is the way the world does things. We can even ‘spin’ our own lives on social media now, in the same ways that politicians do and in the same way that Hollywood does; and we are able to be the center of attention all the time. God looks at that and says there is a better way to do life than that; there is a better reward than that!
There are a lot of civic organizations out there that call themselves churches. But when it’s all said and done, they are just ‘good deed’ doing places. Now, there is nothing wrong with just doing ‘good deeds’. In fact, that’s what Jesus tells us to do; but He wants us to bring glory to Him when we do it! When Jesus gave the command to go forth and to share and to give and to do much, Jesus didn’t just say “I want you to give a cup of water.” Jesus told His disciples, “I want you to give a cup of water, in my name!” (Matthew 10:42) That’s what makes us a church. Faith doesn’t call attention to itself; Faith calls attention to the Father!
When we do good things we do it in the name of Jesus so that He will be lifted up and glorified; not so that we will look good. Over the course of the next few years, we are going to be one of the most active communities of believers that Maryland has ever seen; we are going to make a difference! But we will not do it for our glory; we will do it so that the name of Jesus will be proclaimed. Not just a cup of water, but a cup of water in Jesus’ name! -Pastor John B. Smith