Have you ever been around someone who tells you all of the things that they do for the Lord? They list off their accomplishments, their degrees, their service to this person or that person, until all you want to do is run away from them. I have found myself in that place a few times, and I must be honest and admit that at some point in my life I was that person doing the listing off. This reminds me of a passage of scripture that our pastor pointed out at church yesterday.
“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 me. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Matthew 6:2
When I read this scripture, a question comes into my mind. That question is “would you still do it if no one was looking?” Think about it for a minute. If no one would ever see you doing something for someone else, and you were not allowed to speak about it to anyone, would you still do it? Think about serving at church. What if you cleaned the bathrooms every week, cleaned up after the body of Christ day in and day out, and no one ever noticed you for it- would you still do it? What if the service that you give to God every day goes unnoticed by the people around you? Would you still do it?
I think what the Lord is showing me is that sometimes I do things so that I can be rewarded through recognition. I help a sister in the Lord out because I want her to think well of me, when in fact, I need to be helping her because I need her to see Jesus in me. Sometimes I think we serve God for our own sakes and not the sake of others. This usually is the case when someone wants to list off their accomplishments to you. I have been around women who have listed off all the ministries that they are involved in and have told me how “blessed” they are to be a blessing to so many people. But aren’t they sounding their own trumpet at this point? Aren’t they seeking recognition, when Jesus is telling us not to?
In the following verse Jesus tells us that we should not even let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3) When we do anything we should be doing it for the Lord and the Lord’s glory only. But how many times do we honestly do this? How many times do we truly do charitable deeds for His glory rather than our own?
What if we never told anyone about our charitable deeds? What if we never spoke of how much we have helped someone? What if we just never mentioned it? Would we still do it? Would we still be willing to help out someone in need, knowing that we would never be recognized for it? I have had to do some heart searching on this one, because in all honesty, there is a part of me that wants to say yes, I would still do it all. But before the Lord I must be open and tell you that there is also a part of me that says no, I wouldn’t do it if I knew no one would recognize me for it. Sad truth, but one I think we all must come to accept in our own hearts.
What I see in these short passages of scripture is my own hypocritical heart, and that I still need a lot of work in this area. It is not about what I think; it is about what the Lord thinks. My motives for doing something are just as important to Him as the something I am doing. If I am writing for my sake and not the sake of His glory, then what is the point of me doing it at all? For I have my reward, according to my Savior.
When I sound my own trumpet, or when I go about serving the Lord and others, what are my motives for doing it? Am I truly doing them for His glory, or am I doing them for my own? I have been around a lot of people who like to tell me about all that they are doing for others, and how they have been such a blessing to someone. But in retrospect, I too have been that person as well. I too have sounded my trumpet, listed off my many ministries and made myself the forerunner for recognition instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has the right to be glorified. If we are being honest, we all have.
I guess my whole point today in writing this is to encourage us to begin to check our hearts and our motives before we decide to serve the Lord or His people. If we are truly being sincere in our motives and wanting to glorify God in the midst of it all then no one will ever know of what we have done or what we will do. But God will. God sees the very depths of our hearts. He sees the motives behind all that we do. If we do it for our sakes, He sees it. If we do it for His sake, He sees it and He will reward us for it in the days to come. Maybe we should stop letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing. Maybe then people will begin to see more of Jesus and less of ourselves. But, don’t take my word for it- I am a hypocrite too.