Together in Christ: 'Goodness Out of the Spotlight' — Matthew 6:1-4

Wednesday, December 4, 2024

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[Jesus warned his disciples,] "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. 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! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."
— Matthew 6:1-4 NLT

Key Thought

"You can tell a person's character when you know what they do, say, and think when no one is looking."

Have you heard something similar to this? It's true. And this is Jesus' point. When we do good things to receive the notice of those on earth, we lose the long-term applause of heaven. When we live for rewards on earth, we eliminate the rewards of heaven. Good deeds, especially those done to bless others, should honor God and come from a heart seeking to share God's gracious compassion and faithful love. [1] But when people do compassionate and loving actions to be seen and admired by others, Jesus is emphatic: "they have received all the reward they will ever get." We give our gifts to bless the person in need as someone sharing the goodness of God. When we do it "under the radar," then our "Father, who sees everything, will reward" us with eternal blessings. God doesn't want us to show out but to share grace. It's that simple. Our Father doesn't want us to poison our acts of kindness with the spirit of self-promotion or attention-grabbing deeds. If God is my primary orienting relationship, I will treat my neighbors lovingly because of their needs, not because I want others to think I am someone special!

[1] Psalm 136:1-26 uses the refrain "His faithful love endures forever" 26 times. Other psalms use this phrase as their refrain referring to the nature of God.
[2] Matthew 22:36-40.

Today's Prayer

Father, as the Holy Spirit molds my heart to become increasingly like Jesus' heart for people, I ask that You embolden me to reach out to people I might normally overlook. I want to be Your hands of grace for those in need. Speed my feet to find the people who need You who are around me. Jesus, I pray this prayer through You and to honor You with my life. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 6:1-18
  • Psalm 136:1-18

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Illustration

Illustration of Matthew 6:1-4 NLT — [Jesus warned his disciples,] "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. 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! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.