"Be careful! When you do good things, don't do those things in front of people. Don't do those things for people to see you. If you do that, then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
— Matthew 6:1
Jesus has been challenging us to a greater righteousness as expressed in our relationship with other people. He is now going to remind us of the key relationship at the center of our being—our relationship with the Father. In many ways, Paul mirrored Jesus' teaching here when he wrote 1 Corinthians 13. Our ministry, our worship, and our lives must have God our Father at the center. They should be motivated out of a love for God. What we do, we do because it is what God would do. Even as we do it, it must convey that love. Our acts of worship and kindness are not to impress others, but to honor the heart and character of God. If we honor him, we can be sure he will not forget our works and kindness. If we do what we do to be seen by others, that's all the reward we're ever going to get.
Father, help me today, and from today forward, to find effective ways to minister to others in ways that bring them closer to your love. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
"Be careful! When you do good things, don't do those things in front of people. Don't do those things for people to see you. If you do that, then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "When you give to poor people, don't announce that you are giving. Don't do like the hypocrites do. They blow trumpets before they give so that people will see them. They do that in the synagogues and on the streets. They want other people to give honor to them. I tell you the truth. Those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you give to poor people, give very secretly. Don't let any person know what you are doing. Your giving should be done in secret. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. The hypocrites love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray loudly. They want people to see them pray. I tell you the truth. They already have their full reward. When you pray, you should go into your room and close the door. Then pray to your Father. He is there in that secret place. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "And when you pray, don't be like those people that don't know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing. Don't pray like that. They think that God will hear them because of the many things they say. Don't be like those people. Your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. So when you pray, you should pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come, and that the things you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, the same as we have forgiven the people that did wrong to us. Don't let us be tempted (tested); but save us from the Evil One (the devil).' Yes, if you forgive other people for the things they do wrong, then your Fatherin heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong. But if you don't forgive the wrong things people do to you, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrong things you do. "When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad. The hypocrites do that. Don't be like the hypocrites. They make their faces look strange to show people that they are fasting. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you fast, make yourself look nice. Wash your face. Then people will not know that you are fasting. But your Father that you cannot see will see you. Your Father sees the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you.