Some Things Are For God’s Eyes Only
We live in a very public world. Someone can take a picture in a distant country and it’s possible people can see it all over the world in a matter of minutes. That’s fun! What isn’t fun is that everything is so public these days. A few years ago Google CEO Eric Schmidt said,
If You Have Something You Don’t Want Anyone To Know, Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Doing It
What’s odd about this statement is that he isn’t making a moral judgement but a statement about privacy. It’s easy for what you do to be seen by others. Even if you don’t post anything personally someone may write something about you or post a photograph or video of you online. This is good news and bad news for Christians. In a good sense we want our light to shine before others to point people to Jesus Matthew 5:16. In another sense, there are some things we don’t want others to know that we’re doing.
When I say this the thought that immediately comes to mind for most of us is ungodly behavior. That’s certainly true but it’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about certain good works.
[Tweet “Some righteous deeds are only meant to be seen by God”]
In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus tells us there are three good works that we’re supposed to do privately. The principle Jesus sets forth is
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. Matthew 6:1
[Tweet “How we do good works shows who we’re doing them for, God or people”]
In the rest of the chapter Jesus gives 3 specific examples of good works we should do that others shouldn’t know about.
3 Good Works We’re To Do In Secret
- Give Matthew 6:2-4. In particular, give to the poor. Do it so no one knows. Also, be careful you’re not thinking too highly of yourself, even if no one else knows!
- Pray Matthew 6:5-6. This isn’t saying we shouldn’t ever pray out loud. Jesus is condemning those who pray out loud so others will think they’re righteous. Have you ever heard a humble man or woman pray out loud? You immediately recognize a humble attitude! Oh, Jesus also says you don’t need to be wordy. Don’t say the same things over and over in the same prayer. God’s actually pretty smart so He gets it the first time.
- Fast Matthew 6:16-18. If you choose to deny yourself food to seek the blessing of God on your life, God’s the only one who needs to know about it.
[Tweet “Good works done secretly honor and please God”]
Jesus says the benefit of giving, praying and fasting in secret is the Father will reward us. I have no idea what that reward is but whatever it is, I want it!
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or question below.
Ward, I have a question for you. When Jesus says don’t pray for the same things over and over, what does that really mean. If you think a lot about what we teach our children, we might teach them a meal blessing or a nighttime prayer. We want them to say their prayers. I know at night I say the prayer I was taught as a child, I pray the Lord’s Prayer and then I have a little conversation with God. The problem is that many times my conversation is about thanking him for watching over my daughters and blessing me, etc. Anyway just wondering about your thoughts on this.
Thanks and keep up the good work. I always enjoy reading your blogs.
Hey Rhett, (sorry for the delay in getting back to you!)
You pose a logical question from what I said in this post. I think the key is in why we repeat something in our prayer. Like you, there are things I pray every day. I pray for Margaret and my kids and grandkids and often pray the same things each day, for their safety, spiritual growth, and God’s blessing on their health and jobs. I do that because we’re told to cast our care upon Him, because He cares for us 1 Peter 5:7. That’s what I care about. In this post Jesus condemned people who thought that the amount and frequency of their words in prayers would make them effective. They thought it they said the same thing many, many times they would get what they ask. That is what Jesus condemns, meaningless repetition.
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow. In that parable He encourages persistence in our prayer, not babbling and repetition. The most important thing we can do to see God answer our prayer, other than being persistent is to live fruitful lives. John 15:1-8. When we are living godly fruitful lives the Father will honor that and we will see more answered prayer.
I hope this helps. If not, let me know. I really appreciate your questions. May God bless you and your daughters richly!