“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly,
to be admired by others,…
Give your gifts in private,
and your Father, who sees everything,
will reward you.”
Matthew 6:1,4 NLT
Matthew 6:1,4 NLT
I felt like the Lord leading me to post a message on “rewards” this week. One thing that becomes obvious immediately in the teachings of Jesus is that God wants to reward us for doing what’s right. However, He insists that we do it with right motives.
Our natural inclination in life is to look for approval from people. Without giving it a thought we normally want to make a good impression, and that can create problems. Jesus warns about that in this week’s scripture. “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.”(v1) God rewards good deeds when our motives are right – when we do them as if we were doing them to the Lord Himself. But if we do the deeds to win people’s admiration – that’s all we will get – their admiration. The answer is, “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.” (v4)
The same is true with prayer. When praying in public we need to be careful not to be trying to impress people. Our focus needs to be on the Lord, to whom we are praying, not the people who hear us pray. Jesus says, “when you pray,...pray to your Father… Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (v6)
Just as we are inclined to look for people’s approval, we are also inclined to avoid disapproval – rejection - mockery or persecution. It’s fear of these hostel reactions that hinder us from speaking out for Christ and Christian values in this sinful society. And as a result we lose rewards God wants to give us. On the other hand, it’s to our benefit and God’s glory if we are willing to suffer disapproval – rejection - mockery or even persecution for our faith. Jesus says, “Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” Matthew 5:12
Father, thank you for enabling us to serve you in ways that earn us rewards on earth and in heaven. Help us to look for your approval instead of the approval of people. In Jesus’ name.
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