“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” That is the paraphrase of Matthew 6:1 from The Message.
I think it is one of the hardest sayings of Jesus. We are born wanting to be noticed and validated. We yearn for our five minutes of fame. “It’s all about ME” is our theme song. So, when a chance comes along to shine through our good deeds, how can we resist?
We have to resist by thinking about who we want to please. When we display ourselves for those around us we are trying to please them. We have a need for them to think well of us. We basically esteem man’s opinion. Maybe it works for a time but if our dark side ever shows its ugly face, will that same man still esteem us as before?
On the other side we can desire to please God instead of man. It is HIS esteem that we should be shooting for. Why? Because his love for us will not change when our warts show. He is well aware of all that is inside of us: the good, the bad and the ugly. Man is fickle but God is unwavering and constant.
God wants us to do our good deeds in secret – for his eyes only. That’s enough of an audience, believe me. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4) No reward from man will match it. That alone should keep us from tooting our own horn.