In the Secret Place
Jesus said, “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 needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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 are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:1-8)
It’s rainy and cold today, with bug season in full swing for about three more weeks. So, at my house, we are having a movie day 🙂 We did the usual movies — Despicable Me, Frozen, then Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. Then, we found a Veggie Tales movie. I love Veggie Tales :):) The kids watched and giggled as I made chocolate chip cookies. It was a Christmas movie…..perfect for the dreary day. I wasn’t really paying attention until they read Matthew 6:4 — “When you give to the needy, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” My thoughts turned to how many people I know that only do good or give for recognition.
Numerous volunteers that only do so to give their resume a boost. The people who brag about the poor people they helped on the side of the road, or any good deed they do. Then there are the people who ignore society 11 months of the year, and yet when Christmas comes, they are quick to tell everyone who they ‘helped’ during that month. Sometimes the good deed is ruined by publicized recognition that is demanded after the fact.
Still, I want to be the person who prays for her friends without telling them I did or posting about it on social media. I want to be the one who does something nice for others without asking or expecting anything in return. I don’t live my life needing ‘recognition’ I am quite okay to just stay behind the scenes. But it saddens me that we live in a world where every good deed needs to be boasted about or that helping others is almost a necessity instead of a desire of the heart. That spending time with others who are sad or lonely needs to be bragged about on Facebook.
What is happening — unfortunately — is not just limited to adults. I am also seeing these traits in how we are raising our kids. Each (and just about every) kid gets an award just for showing up. As a consequence, kids expect they should win everything, even if they didn’t work hard for it. Then when they get older and do something for others, they tell everyone who listens. It appears that they need praise for even the little things.
I’m happy that my son is not like that. In grade 5 and 6, he volunteered every morning at his school’s breakfast program. On graduation day, he was embarrassed when he was given a reward for his time. He did it because he wanted to, not because he needed a reward. Indeed, he is always helping those he can, befriending those who need friends, or just being kind to those who need a kind word:) I hope as he gets older, he keeps these same values and characteristics that so define how we should act.
Why? Because Jesus said it right. “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.”
Most of all, let me say this. The reward for being kindhearted and good, praying for others, and putting others needs ahead of our own, might not be recognized here on earth — particularly, when our prayers and acts of kindness are done in secret — but I am confident that the things I do will be acknowledged by my Heavenly Father and I am quite okay to wait:)