Brad Trekell Special correspondent
Ada — “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”— Matthew 6:1
There is a temptation to seek glory for any good work that we may do, rather than deferring the honor to God. When we glorify ourselves for the things that we do, we fail to realize that we are not the source of our good works. (John 15:5) If we have adopted a spiritual mindset, we begin to see that we are all a part of a body working together with a common goal and not individuals with our own agendas.
The purpose behind all of our works is not to magnify ourselves but to glorify God. In fact, it is really not even us at work. As Christians, we are simply vessels that contain the Holy Spirit which works through us. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Therefore, any time we take the glory for the works that we do, we are stealing from the Creator, who deserves praise and glory far beyond comparison. We make ourselves out to be equal with God as if we deserve the praise more than He does.
Does the approval of man mean as much to you as the approval of God?
Christ gives examples of this by saying, “When you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”—Matthew 6:2-6
If we are tempted to glorify ourselves, it is better to go out of our way to not be noticed as we do a good work. God despises a proud and haughty spirit and gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Humility comes from a heart that realizes that it is nothing without God. Pride comes when we are deceived into thinking that we are more important and better than everyone else. Time and time throughout Scripture, we can read examples of God lifting up the humble and exalting them while He brings down the proud and humiliates them.
Christ continues on to teach His disciples how they ought to pray, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”— Matthew 6:7-15
Christ’s model prayer for His audience was not an extravagant, jargon-filled presentation. It was just Christ speaking to His Father in the same way that He would speak to anyone else. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone, and He showed the same meekness and humility that He always showed.
After the examples of giving and prayer, Christ once more tells the people not to seek their own glory. “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” - Matthew 6:16-18
If we do our works to be seen of men, rather than to glorify God in our humility, our reward is whatever satisfaction we may receive from being seen. It lasts for only a moment, and then we go on seeking more recognition. If we can be content to let the Lord do His works through us and wait for His blessings, we will be eternally grateful that we did.
Brad Trekell is a 2013 graduate of NWOSU, where he wrote a column for the Northwestern News. Comments or questions may be sent to Brad via e-mail at email@example.com.