July 15, 2010
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." - Matthew 6:1
I've noticed that it's easier to serve God if others are watching. I speak Christianese more fluently and I blend into the Christian culture better at those times. Sundays are probably the easiest, with the whole congregation around me. It's not too difficult when I'm "serving behind the scenes" after loudly volunteering or when I've generously invited people over for dinner, either.
Nope. The times that are truly difficult come when I'm ready for bed and have to choose my reading time carefully, or when I see a task that needs to be done but won't lead to any praise or even thanks. Cleaning the toilet comes to mind.
You see, I often confuse "letting my light shine before men" (Matt. 5:16) with getting my good Christian character applauded. I may be genuinely happy to help, but that little bit of praise sure doesn't hurt.
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words ... when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6-7, 17-18)
The Christian transformation works from the inside out, not from the outside in. It's when we're sneaky Christians, worshipping God for who He is and what He's done without trying to draw attention to ourselves, that we bring a smile to His face.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Cultivating time in the closet actually leads to the most vibrant Christian living of all, because what's done in secret will spill out into full view. Then our light shines before men because it cannot be contained within the closet. Today, take time to seek God from a private place - and let the attitude of worship follow you when you leave it. Look forward to praising God in secret!