Beware of practicing your righteousness ... to be seen

"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. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

The challenge of anonymity hits to the heart of what it means to live by the spirit, and not the letter, of the law. Living by the letter of the law will many times be accompanied by pride.. in this case the pride of giving our time and money to the Lord's work. Contrary to this Jesus speaks to us about the heart of serving and giving. He tells us that our service and giving should be anonymous and not bring attention to us but to God.

Almost four years ago I wrote a post about the overwhelming desire to be seen and how it affects the church today. I called it Invisible Ministry. Here is an excerpt from it:
For years I have battled with a phenomenon that I call "Invisible Ministry" ... you know, doing the stuff when no one is looking and doing the essential nonpublic forms of ministry. Much of this work comes under the heading of 'pastoral ministry' and I love doing it ... but ... I am almost choking as I write this ... I have been in a fierce battle with a dark part of me that wants to be 'visible'.

The desire to be visible is a dark side of the ministry ... wanting to be seen and appreciated by people is a dark force that permeates much of American church leadership. Many large ministries and churches, as well as small ones, are led by men which have surrendered to the dark side of visible ministry. These men were, at one point in their lives, seduced by public ministry.
It is no wonder why Jesus speaks so directly to this. The temptation to do good works (and make no mistake they are good works) to be seen is a dark force. It is the temptation to rob God of the glory due Him and to garner some sort of weird religious credit for ourselves.

God deliver me from the temptation to serve to be seen.

1 comment:

  1. I have to pray daily that I won't blow my own horn, as I find it's easy for me to share my good deeds. Who I've given cookies too, how many cards I sent... You are so right, this is the dark side of ministry.

    Lord save me from this habit!!!!


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