Be careful not to do your good deeds publicly, to be seen by men; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored and recognized and praised by men. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, they have their reward in full.
Some time ago, I was on my way to meet friends when I saw someone in need and felt prompted to help. I knew that I would be late to wherever I was going, but that did not matter at the time. So I did my good deed and went along my way. I recall feeling a sense of accomplishment in that moment and smiling to God about our secret little mission. Then I arrived at my destination, and something changed. Although I had no obligation to give my reason for being late, for some reason I really wanted to. At the time I convinced myself that my experience would encourage the brothers and sisters I had joined that evening. But when I opened my mouth and told the story of why I was late, I felt deflated. The secret honor I held with God for that little act was gone. I realized that I had traded that for the honor I would get from my brothers and sisters when they patted me on the back and said, “well done.”
In life, I try to gauge the words I speak now by asking myself a simple question: “who needs to know?” If I am going to speak of some good thing I have done, it must be out of necessity. Scripture is clear that God rewards the deeds done in private. This is just like the way He answers those prayers spoken to him in the secret places. Although we are called to show our faith to encourage others and point them in God’s direction, we are not required to show our faith to point people in our direction. Left to our own devices, we are the ones we would like to be propped up. What God imparts to us is a desire to put ourselves to the side so that He would be elevated. God grants us the humility that places his glory above all. We cannot trick him concerning our motives. There is a difference between acting to please God and acting to impress him. Even the silent, secret, good deed forgoes the reward of God when we act just so that God would honor us. We must act to honor God, and the natural consequence is God’s reward.
One of the great ills of our society is placing certain people above others. Although there is much to be learned through respecting those in authority and those who are our elders, no person is more important than another. No life is more important than another. When it comes to our individual worth, we all hold the same value. In fact, Scripture instructs us to hold others in a higher regard than ourselves. Even when we see someone who appears to be less saintly than we are, God desires that we still hold that person above us. God is telling us that our concern must be for what God thinks of us and what we think of others. However, are concern cannot be what others think of us. If we do something glorious, it is only so that God would be glorified and honored. Seeking the honor of men is not our business. Father, increase in us the desire to work for You in secret that we would not be honored by men but be rewarded by You.