“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:1 – 2)
I can’t imagine, literally tooting a horn when you give to the poor or to charity. I often donate things that I no longer need to a thrift shop that sells them to finance the community outreach that they do. I do not even “toot my horn” to call the thrift shop staff much-less announce to others that I am doing it!
“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Verse 4)
But neither do I feel that I have been “reward” by the Divine or anyone else. It is just something I do to help out. I can’t afford to give money away but I can find other ways to help. And I do. The reward, and the only reward I want, is that I know what I am doing makes a difference.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Verses 5 – 6)
This is “my” verse – one of the verses I orient my life around. I have had many “prayer rooms”; some actual places/spaces and some that are just my own personal time to come to the Lord in prayer. I don’t “toot my horn” or make a public announcement. I just bring myself and my total attention to the Lord, and pray. And yes, I have been rewarded!
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Verses 16 – 18)
Again, beyond my experience. I guess back in Jesus time the local “hypocrites” employed trumpet playing people to announce when and where they were giving alms, prayed at loud decibels in public places and walked around looking like death’s last stop when they were fasting. We as Christians are told to life our faith publicly, but that is NOT the way to do it!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Verses 19 – 21)
As we enter the season of Lent, let us enter it properly; as Jesus instructed his disciples and followers to live their faith lives. Without embarrassment or shame, but also without fanfare and notoriety. The world will notice and know that you are different from others they know. It will become evident in so many ways. And that, beloved reader, will be enough. Selah!