Lord, help me keep secret the good things I do for others,
trusting You see the good I do, knowing You will reward me.

Focus of the Month: “You have heard it said…”

Do you enjoy rewards? Most of us do. Commercialism banks on how much we like rewards! Many retail shops – from coffee to clothing to crafts – offer reward systems. Discounts, give-aways, coupons, and even cash motivate many purchasers.
Jesus taught about a reward system in the Sermon on the Mount:

 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

(Matthew 6:1-4)
Whether a retail establishment, or the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 6, all rewards require action on our part to obtain the reward. So, what actions are required of us to obtain our Father’s rewards?
1) Be cautious of practicing righteousness before men to be noticed by them.
2) When you give to the poor, don’t announce it openly so that you may be honored by men.
3) When you give to the poor, don’t talk about it. Keep it secret.
4) Trust God sees what you do in secret, and know your reward comes from Him.
Really, its a matter of the heart – the motive of the giver. Do you practice righteousness – do good things – give to the poor – to be noticed and honored by people? Or, do you desire to be rewarded – noticed by – honored by God? Do you seek accolades of men, or the praises of your Father?
If we do good, desiring the praises of people, then all of our good deeds are rooted in self-seeking pride. Jesus says we receive our full reward at that time, and we will have no further reward from God. However, if we keep our good deeds a secret, then our hearts are rooted in the unconditional love of our Father, and He will reward us.
In Luke 8:17, Jesus said, “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Paul wrote in Romans 2:16: “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” David attested in Psalm 44:21 that God knows the secrets of the heart.
So, do we trust God in His word and character? Are we like Abraham – unwavering in faith – knowing He who promised is faithful? Can we dismiss the praises of people, and lay hold of this promise from God? Will we keep our mouths shut and not reveal the gifts we give to others in need?
Perhaps, instead of boasting about our giving, we can boast about our God. Maybe, instead of counting the blessings we have bestowed, we can count the secrets we are keeping.  After all, the Lord says in Jeremiah 9:24, “But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”
Don’t boast about your giving. Boast about the Lord, and keep good secrets between you and Him.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Maryann

Scripture References: Matthew 6:1-4; Luke 8:17; Romans 2:16, 4: 19-22; Proverbs 14:31, 21:13, 28:27; Psalm 44:21, 112:9; Jeremiah 9:24