“Aunty, I need to tell you something” says my little nephew.
He was so excited that I got excited to hear what he had to tell me. As he starts to tell me I realize that he is whispering… we are in a room by ourselves so laughing, I whispered back to him and said “Why are we whispering?”
“It is a secret” he whispered back.
Oh boy… so I bent down to get closer to him so he can whisper the secret to me. As he finished, I hugged and kissed him and asked gently, “should you have been telling me that secret?”
Laughing in my arms he noted “Well, Daddy said it is a secret but he told many people so I don’t think it is really secret”.
From the mouth of babes… you really have to love their honesty and bright minds.
That night, as I studied my bible and reflected on the verses it brought me back to the conversation I had that day with my nephew.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others 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 others. Truly I tell you, 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.” ….
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babblinglike pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you needbefore you ask him.” ….
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-18
Matthew 6 outlines three core disciplines of every Christian (prayer, fasting and giving) and Jesus clearly noted that they should each be done in secret so that we can get our rewards from heaven and not man.
But we love sharing secrets… and even more, we love the attention that we get from other people when we want to be seen as spiritual or good. Keeping that all bottled up inside when someone else is gloating about how much they pray, or how many fasts they have done for the year, or how much money they give really drives us crazy when we know within ourselves how much we also do.
I admit that in my journey, I failed at this. I wanted to let others know what I was doing. But the more I developed a relationship with Christ, the more I realized that I should never be measuring myself against what others do but Christ word.
I also realized that I didn’t want to be like the Pharisees… they are the same people who crucified my Lord.. the idea of living my life and serving in HIS kingdom to bring disappointment each time that I came to him in my discipline made my heart ache.
Food for thought: I want to bring joy to God’s heart. In all that I do, say and live. I want to bring HIM all the glory. So choose today whether you want to behave like the Pharisees did or like Jesus.
Prayer: Holy Father, how blessed we are that we have been provided the Word and clear instructions on how to live and please you. Forgive us when we are not obedient. Forgive us when we allow pride to destroy the great work you have been doing within us. Thank you for your grace and power. Jehovah Nissi, cover us under your banner as we go out and provide us with your wisdom that you give so generously. In Jesus name. Amen
May the God of mercy, peace and love be with you.