““Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly…Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Mt. 6:1-8 (underlining added)
Do you notice something in common when it comes to how the Lord calls us to DO GOOD DEEDS, TO PRAY, and TO FAST? First, we who follow the Lord Jesus Christ should be doing all three! Not to earn the Lord’s love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, salvation, and His endless precious promises, as we cannot earn any of this anyway, but DOING GOOD DEEDS, PRAYING, and FASTING should be a normal, regular mark of the life of a Christ follower. All in response to His love for us, our love for Him and others, and our desire and commitment to obey Him, to serve Him, and to draw ever closer to Him. All with a heartfelt desire to cry out to Him in prayer, to fast to hear from Him, and to do good to others in His name for His glory. But let’s go a step further. A big step.
God sees our hearts. He knows our thoughts. And He is intimately familiar with our motives. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were caught up with trying to SEEM and APPEAR to others to be really good people. They wanted to be SEEN, and they wanted the GLORY instead of desiring that others GIVE GOD THE GLORY.
If we’re honest with ourselves, do we not struggle with the very same thing – at least at times? The Lord makes it abundantly clear in the scriptures above that when it comes to DOING GOOD DEEDS, PRAYING, and FASTING, our hearts need to be pure! Our thoughts need to be righteous! Our motives need to be pleasing to Him! We shouldn’t be doing good deeds, praying, and fasting to be seen by others, to look good to others, to keep up a good appearance for others, to earn a pat on the back, to receive glory and praise and honor from others. We should be doing all of this IN LOVE FOR AND OBEDIENCE to THE LORD and in LOVE FOR AND SERVICE to others.
Will we be perfect in this? As humans, we are not perfect. But when the Spirit of God shows us we have fallen into sin, or are headed that way, right down to our feelings, thoughts, and motives, we need to repent and strive instead to feel, think, and do what is pleasing and honoring and brings delight and joy and pleasure to the Lord, amen!