The Father who sees in secret
May 22, 2016 | by: Jason Shiels | 0 Comments
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6v1-4
Have you ever had that sneaking suspicion that the reason why you are posting something on Facebook or Twitter was not only to live out loud and share your life, but also because you want to earn people's approval and gain more credibility in the eyes of others? Perhaps there is an innocent side to this, and there may be no need to be so introspective you might be thinking? However, as believers we are called by God to be ready to invest our lives as kingdom citizens in ways that are not often applauded or visible to others. Jesus makes this clear in the above passage. He asks us for an inventory of our true motives and rationale for our actions. In this case there is a solid rebuke for "the hypocrites" and those seeking to be "praised by others". On closer inspection Jesus is showing us that our intent does matter to him. He is not impressed by us flaunting our so called good works in the public eye whenever the true motive is not actual altruism but self-promotion or approval seeking. Not only does Jesus point out that he can see through our flimsy motives but he also warns that there will be a 'reward' for our false agendas. In this case, garnering public plaudits means that "they have received their reward" here on earth rather than getting it from bounty of the Lord. In many cases nowadays, just the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that others might regard us as 'significant' might seem enough to placate and over-ride any deeper search for why we might want to publicize what God may have prefered us to do "in secret". This of course is not a new problem that Christians have to face but it is certainly a much more prevalent and pervasive one due to the social media charged culture in which we now live. Pastors too are not immune from this crisis of confidence. Monday morning Tweets or posts would often lead the broader public to assume that world-wide revival had just broken out at our Sunday services!
In all this frenzy to let others know what we are up to and what we have done, could we as believers pause just for a moment to assess the real reasons why we are motivated to broadcast our actions? It seems to me that this crisis of confidence boils down to our need for significance as humans. We all want to feel needed and important. In fact we have been created for and require significance because our Creator did NOT create us for meaninglessness. He created us with intent, design and purpose (Genesis 1v26-28). The main point though is how we go about this.
I want to suggest that we need to take a fresh look at the fact that we really are serving a God who sees and notes every good work that is done in secret, in His name! Imagine if we as God's church began to really take hold of this fact and that He truly does "see in secret" and will reward us accordingly. Imagine too if we began to realize that its not good to try and get instant reward and gratification for everything we do? Imagine if we were to serve because we have been so self-lessly served in the gospel by our Servant king Jesus? Imagine if we began to obey not to try and win favour as believers but because of the incredible obedience that Christ walked on earth to the cross on our behalf? Imagine if we began trusting that to know the Father's love and acceptance is way more important in our finding significance than what anyone on earth may or may not see or notice that we do?
So how do we get there? Psalm 91 speaks of dwelling in the shelter of the Most High. This 'secret place' of intimacy and access to the Father, through the Son, in the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit is a place that we as believers often forfeit through over-busyed and distracted lives. As we learn to spend time with our Father and allow His love and the truth of our identity and significance as His children to grow in our lives, then we will less and less need to seek this approval and significance mediated through others! There is no substitute for allowing the truth of God's Word to be activated in us through meditation, prayer, and to abide in the presence of our loving Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit wants to establish you and I today in knowing that our lives are truly significant. Of course we can waste time and spurn so much of the good plans that our father has for us, but by continually aligning ourselves to our true significance as sons, we will less and less feel a deficit and turn to seek it elsewhere. To be ready to work for our Father in apparent obscurity is not real obscurity because He has promised us that he sees us and sees what we do for Him and will reward us with gain that will neither spoil, nor rust nor fade in eternity!
So let's be ready to think less of public plaudits and admiration and more of finding the true significance of who we are in Christ.