One of the things with which we struggle the most as Christians is transparency and genuineness in our motives. Many times, we do good Christian things but in our heart, our motive is not the right one and it then becomes a sin to us. In other words, it is very easy to do acts of righteousness to be seen by people so that they praise us instead of doing things with a genuine heart that seeks to glorify God only.
Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mathew 6:1, “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”.
What does it mean?
If I can summarize the passage in one sentence, it would be this: SINCERE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS DONE FOR GOD, NOT FOR PEOPLE. In this passage, it is not the practice of righteousness that is a problem; in fact, God wants us to be righteous. The problem is that those that Jesus addressed, particularly the Pharisees, were so accustomed to performing their good deeds only to be seen by men, so at the end, it was just about them. If they had two audiences seeing them, God or men, they would always choose men. Therefore, Jesus says Beware! Watch your heart! Watch your motives! He commands us to be continually vigilant of the ever present danger of practicing righteous acts out of a wrong motivation. Thus, true righteousness requires not only to do the right things, but also to do them with and for the right reasons.
Then, in the second part of the verse, Jesus goes even further to emphasize the seriousness of Christian show by reminding us that we will lose reward in heaven. In other words, when a person seeks the applause of men, he is after worldly things that pass away, instead of storing rewards in heaven by doing it with a sincere heart. Sadly, we often sacrifice eternal things to gain something that is fleeting and of no lasting value and benefit in this life; an applause and praise of men that lasts no more than a few seconds.
What does it mean to me?
What Jesus says in Matthew 6:1 is of the outmost importance. To practice your righteousness to be seen by men is a very dangerous thing because it removes God from the throne and places self instead; it makes self the one to be worshiped instead of God. Very often, our sinful human heart is so prone to fish for praise and compliments; we want to make a name for ourselves so we seek the applause of men. We often love when people speak of our greatness and when they speak good things of us. Nevertheless, in the Bible it is clear that we were made to practice righteousness so that people see his greatness, not ours.
Therefore, I want to leave you with a question: What does your heart treasure, human recognition or divine reward? If you keep doing things to be seen by men then you are losing reward one hypocrite act at a time until you may lose many eternal rewards. You will get to heaven and enjoy eternal life if you are truly Christian, but you will continue losing your reward little by little.
So what do you treasure, God’s glory or your human reward? Human recognition is living for the immediate pleasure instead of thinking of eternity, therefore, I urge to remember that SINCERE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS DONE FOR GOD, NOT FOR PEOPLE.