Who Sees in Secret
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
6 “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.
2 “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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when 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.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
This week let’s have some time for introspection. Let’s take stock of what is going on in our hearts in a practical way by looking at some examples of what Jesus is talking about here.
Practicing righteousness in order to be seen by others:
This is something that we can find on social media posts. When we're posting our daily devotional, when we're expressing holy thoughts or feelings on social media, what is our motivation behind it? Are we heaping up words in front of our peers in order to find our validation through their praise of your wisdom, our discernment, of our abilities to write eloquently? Or are we sharing from a place of knowing that God is the one who validates us, therefor simply offering an encouragement to someone, or wanting to show how God is moving in our hearts?
Giving to the needy in order to be praised:
Do we use our service opportunities as a photo opportunity? Do we find ourselves wanting to share what we are doing for the less fortunate in order to hear praise from others? Are we sharing our experiences in order to raise awareness? Are we using your influence in our peer group to shed light on people in less fortunate circumstances—in order that they might come to understand why we are passionate about serving people in this capacity?
Our prayer is a reflection of our relationship with God:
When we pray, are we using this as an opportunity to grow our relationship with the Father? Are we relying on His power, His wisdom, His might, His love to move in regard to what we are asking of Him? If asked to pray aloud in a ministry situation are we using that to make ourselves sound more holy, more wise, or are we simply speaking to the creator? When we make intercession for others are we using flowery words that aren’t necessary? Are we trying to impress even God with the way we speak and the way our prayers are worded?
Mercy is one of God’s greatest attributes:
When we resolve a conflict and offer mercy to someone, is it a true extension of God’s mercy? Does our mercy come without stipulation— as God’s does? Are we able to let things go and move forward in love, grace, and work toward kingdom building? Do we value and honor God’s ministry of reconciliation? How have we been able to show true mercy to someone who has wronged us? Who is the hardest person to extend God’s mercy to?
Spiritual practices done for the public eye:
Here Jesus gives the example of fasting and putting on a show about it. We can do this in any spiritual practice, any instance of trial or testing can be used here as well. Do we use these opportunities to grow with God or to complain about what we’re going through? Are we seeing the purpose behind the pain or are we simply letting the pain be the focal point? Are we boasting in our weakness that His strength would be made clear or are we simply just boasting?
Many times through this passage Jesus says “your Father who is in secret”. Not that God should ever BE a secret, but God wants our relationship with Him to be a private affair. He desires intimacy and he desires for us to have a relationship with Him outside of our relationships with others. He does not want to be used as a show piece, but as the center piece of our hearts and lives. So what does that look like for us? Have we been living a life where on the outside we honor God with our mouth but our hearts are far from Him? If our answer is yes, there’s good news for us, because admitting that is the first step to recovering our relationship with God. Often it’s said that if we find ourselves far from God it’s because we moved, He never did. But just as with the prodigal son, He is always waiting with arms wide open for his children to return to Him.