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.
It’s easier to do what’s right when we gain recognition and praise. To be sure our motives are not selfish, we should do our good deeds quietly or in secret, with no thought of reward. Jesus says we should check our motives in three areas: generosity (Matt 6:4), prayer (Matt 6:6), and fasting (Matt 6:18). Those acts should not be self-centered, but God-centered, done not to make us look good but to make God look good. The reward God promises is not material, and it is never given to those who seek it. Doing something only for ourselves is not a loving sacrifice. With your next good deed, ask, “Would I still do this if no one would ever know I did it?”
Sometimes it is hard for me to gauge the true intentions behind what I say and do. I look at things like sharing my journal publicly and being involved in various other witnessing/evangelistic efforts, and I begin to question myself. What are my true motives? Am I just wanting others to see me and recognize and acknowledge me? Or am I wanting others to know a closer walk with God themselves?
Even this line of thinking is troubling, as I realize that there is a lot more “me” in those questions than God. You see, I’m asking if “I’m wanting others to know a closer walk with God”. Shouldn’t it be God-centered and more along the lines of “God send me, I will follow. Your will be done.” Whether or not others are drawn closer, shouldn’t it be about serving Him faithfully regardless of how others are affected? Shouldn’t it be living and serving others and being patient and kind and gentle and forgiving towards them, regardless of their reaction towards me?
Oh, how often I even get it wrong when trying to serve Him. My actions and words are open and visible, I wear my faith in my sleeve, because without it I am naked. When my faith is all that I have to cling to, how can I also keep it hidden?
My shame and my weakness is put on display for the whole world. They laugh at this old hypocrite, they chuckle if I stumble, or they mock me for being too pious. There is no pleasing this world, nor do I wish to please them. Their ways are wicked in every way as they attack your servant. But even this, I fear has me running in fear from enemies that are only shadows and that cannot harm me.
If I have fear, it is only the fear of God – and I fear that I have way too little even of that righteous fear. But I am told that if I fear punishment that I do not yet understand the full love of God, so I do not fear His punishment. You see, I fear falling short of bringing Him Honor and glory – and not because I’m seeking reward or seeking to avoid punishment, because I trust in His promises as faithful and true. I believe.
But sometimes the lesson shows me how far I am from God. Sometimes it shows me how short even my best efforts leave me. Sometimes I see how little of my life truly honors God, and I am not crushed by this – but I am encouraged to press on. I have not yet finished the race. I will not take my hand from the plow. I have not yet finished washing the feet of my brothers and friends. I have not yet been blessed to be laid wide upon my cross for my Savior’ glory and honor.
And again, I find myself in vanity. So much about me. But you see, I am becoming more like my teacher. If you hear me talking longingly about Christ my Savior, it is because I am deeply in love. I am washed over by His grace, and His glory overpowers me. I sing of Him who lives in me as I also sing of the death of “ego”, the death of self.
Yes, this is the type of journal entry that I fear has no redeeming value for others. It is all talk of vanity. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes as I dance for you all, swinging at the wind, fighting against enemies that aren’t even there, entertaining you with my foolishness of seeking wisdom and understanding of the ways of God that are so much higher than I can hold onto.
So if there is a gift in this message, let it be a jewel hidden within my ramblings. Let it lead you upon a path of self examination within the Word of God. May you in your search for wisdom and understanding too find that the pursuit of wisdom alone is fruitless. Gnosticism is not my aim. May you find the fruit of a faithful life, balanced in both learning and doing, balanced in both boldness and humility.
Call to Action
Examine the “why” behind your actions. Hide your kind actions if they are a visible reflection of your pride. Set the light upon a hill publicly if you find yourself shy or ashamed of sharing the gospel. Do not credit yourself with the works or they are worthless. Find grattitude that the Lord will use even you to do His will, and recognize that He is the one worthy of all glory and honor. Walk in His will and let Him be honored, whether it results in honor or ridicule, in comfort or suffering, in exaltation or persecution, in proof of your faith or increasingly more trial – knowing that there is a time for everything.
Do not remain today where you were yesterday. Step out in faith and follow His will for your day today. Each breath offers an opportunity. Those breaths and what you do with them are between you and God, so serve Him faithfully – whether that means quiet obedience, or whether that means public obedience. Let Him guide you upon the narrow path, with a firm footing upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.