It was said during an ordinary and daily phone conversation, “You might be eligible for sainthood and you’re not even Catholic.”
We laughed so hard as it was such a ridiculous statement, though it was sincerely said. But it made me think about life and the responsibilities we face each day.
Some of the most extraordinary tasks, actions, and demonstrations of good are done in the smallest of ways, behind closed doors, and within our own families.
Within our own families, where personalities can be challenging, some days – difficult at best. Oh, and sometimes the difficult one may be ourselves!
It is far easier to do those things which will bring recognition, affirmation, and accolades than to do an action that may never be seen, known, or rewarded. Our fragile and human skin longs to be seen and known.
It is interesting to me that Jesus, upon seeing the crowds (the many) gathering around Him, gathered the disciples (the few) close and began to teach them specifically, although the crowd also heard His words. Jesus was desiring to instill in these disciples, and thus in all His people, keys to living out their commitment to Him.
Jesus addressed the importance of right living even when no one but God is watching. Correct action with wrong motives will never be pleasing to God.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1, NLT)
Jesus reminds us to be on guard for we have a human tendency to seek praise. God sees every action, knows every deed whether great or small, and sees the hidden motives of our hearts. He continues to teach them, and us today, of three areas in particular in which to keep ourselves guarded:
- Giving. “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!”Â (Matthew 6:2,NLT). It was easy for giving to become public in those days. Trumpets, or noise, often accompanied money being placed in the receptacles. Giving became a way to gain recognition, or a reputation as generous. Jesus reminds us that our giving is to be done in secret. It should flow from a heart which glorifies God alone, who has given us all things.
- Prayer. “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them.” (Matthew 6:5, NLT). Public or community prayer, is wonderful and surely needed. But it should stem from the overflow of our private prayer times.
- Fasting. “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting.”
(Matthew 6:16, NLT). We fast to ascertain the will of God and direction. Again, Jesus warns us on motive.
Jesus tells us our giving should be done so that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand has done.” We should pray “by yourself, shutting the door behind you,and pray to your Father in private.” Our fasting should be done quietly, with joy so that no one even notices we are fasting.
God evaluates our actions by searching our hearts where nothing is hidden from Him, examining our unseen motives, and seeing what is done in secret.
It is easier to impress in public than it is in private.
Some of the most extraordinary tasks done for God happen in the dailyness of our lives.
They remain unseen, unheard, and unnoticed,
except by the audience of One.
“And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 4, 6, 18)