Matthew 6:1 – 4 Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, 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 men. I tell you the truth, 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.
One of the funniest commercials I’ve ever seen came out a couple of years ago. I don’t even recall what was being advertised, but I do recall a bunch of tough, gang-looking guys playing a very in-your-face game of basketball. They were wearing bandannas around their heads, chains on their belts, and were sweating. They looked like the quintessential tough guys. Then, the camera (supposedly) stopped rolling, and the tough-guy-actors started whining like a bunch of little sissies, complaining that it was too hot, that someone had damaged an expensive manicure, etc. Then, one of them approached the director with one of those artsy drama-major type voices, and said, “Tell me again. What’s my motivation for this scene?”
When we do good things in this world, we need to ask ourselves, “What’s my motivation?” Are we trying to get noticed, so that others will see what kind, generous people we are? Are we trying to improve our images, or earn brownie points with people who can help us get to where we want to be?
Jesus calls us to do good, simply for the sake of doing good. He wants us to do the right things, and be generous, and help others even when no one is watching. He wants our motivation to be the simple act of doing good, and nothing more.
But it’s always easier to do the right thing when others are watching. Others’ opinions provide the motivation we may need to give generously, or go that extra mile. Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t ever do good things when others are watching. We just need to make sure that’s not the only reason we are doing them. And when possible, we should keep our good deeds to ourselves. After all, God sees. God rewards. And His rewards are always much bigger and better than anything man can offer. His rewards include transforming our hearts into His very image, and filling our lives with lasting peace and joy.
Now that’s some serious motivation.
Dear Father, Please forgive me for the times I’ve done good things, only so others would notice. Help me to act out of a pure heart.