That we may be seen by others. These words rang through my head as I read in Matthew 6 this morning. You see, I have been struggling with writing and posting on my blog regularly. I have been overwhelmed and busy in the business of late and find myself having a hard time getting into a rhythm of writing again. As I prayed this morning I asked the Lord if this was just a season I was going through? Was this the winter of my writing year and soon spring would come and I the words would flow off the page once again? As I prayed I found my spirit being pricked with the question, "Why are you writing"? I responded- I write because it is my gift, it is a talent that God has given me so that I can glorify Him. But as the Holy Spirit began to search my heart I began to see that sometimes, the motives behind what I do have everything to do with me and nothing to do with Jesus.
"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."
I believe, if we are completely honest, open and bare before the Lord and before one another all of us would agree we struggle with this desire to be seen. We want people to see how hard we serve the Lord week after week. We want others to see how devoted to God we are in our daily prayers and in our outward appearances. We want others to tell us how much we inspire them to live a more godly life. We want people to come to our blog and read it, we want to have the best posts, the most followers, and be the next best seller on the shelves of Lifeway. But, if we are going to be sincere, then we have to confess that in the end, it is really all about me. We do what we do so that we can be "seen by them". Today I learned that the motive to our works is just as important to God as the actual work.
I was reminded of the life of Jesus as I read through the rest of Chapter 6 (which I encourage you to do today). Here in these passages of scripture Jesus repeats the same phrase over and over again, "to be seen by them." Think about the life of Jesus for just a moment. Did He ever accept or seek to be thanked, praised or honored for the works that He did? No, not that I can recall. People praised Him, but He always pointed them to the truth that He was here on His Father's business. His obedience was just that, obedience to do the will of His Father who sent Him. He did not need the affirmation and praise of the people. So why do we?
Constant affirmation and the desire to be noticed and praised is a fruit of our pride, not a fruit of the Spirit. When I do something for someone and I am disappointed or upset that they did not notice, my motives are clear- I did it for me and not for God. I did it to seek the affirmation and the praise. I have known people to leave churches because they served non-stop in so many ministries but no one ever thanked them or noticed how hard they worked. Who were they serving? What were they seeking? I have also known people who will stay in a church that does nothing but exalt them and praise them every Sunday from the pulpit. If we are truly serving and working for the Lord then whether or not someone notices should not even cross our minds. When we seek the affirming praise of our peers than we are seeking to be praised for our good works, and that does not in any way glorify God our Father. Desires to be seen by others is a trait of our sinful human flesh and it must be put to death if we are going to walk this Christian walk. If you don't put it to death, then you have your reward, so don't expect one when you get to heaven.
Who we appear to be on the outside is just a important to God as who we truly are on the inside. You are not fooling God, you may be fooling your fellow man, but God sees you. You can paint the outside of your cup whatever color you want, but God sees the stains of pride, it is not hidden from Him. So what is the solution to this problem of wanting to be "seen by them"?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties."
Before you do, pray. Before you serve, pray. Before you do, speak or serve ask the Lord to search your motives, to search your heart. If you serve the Lord, then serve the Lord and if someone thanks you, praises you or gives you affirmation, remind them that it is God who works in you. When people see your good works, when your works are recognized, not because you wanted them to be, but because God, who sees in secret rewards you openly, then they will see Him and glorify Him. God sees what you do for Him, so does it really matter if anyone else notices too?