We discussed the importance of secrecy and reward yesterday, and we concluded that it’s acceptable to be motivated by Heavenly blessing and reward when we choose to relate to Jesus privately, without the attention or confirmation of others. Today, I want to go a step further and suggest that public giving and ministry are not entirely without blessings.
I get up and pray in front of the crowd several times in my church, and this isn’t a bad thing. Jesus’ ministry had a highly public face, and He was always teaching and praying for people. This was a major blessing, but He also made sure to set aside specific times to talk to His Father since that was the ultimate reward; He needed those energizing moments to keep moving forward in His mission. Individuals have given to our church or to Hour of Power in similar ways, sometimes publicly and sometimes quietly. I know from personal experience that many of these people are not donating to be seen by others; rather, they have learned that while there is blessing in all generosity, the greatest gift comes through anonymity. These stories illustrate a Jewish belief about kindness that suggests that doing well for the sake of others’ praise is still a boon; it’s just not as satisfying as doing it in secret. I once heard Dennis Prager, who is Jewish, say “If you want to give to put your name on the side of a hospital and you want people to applaud, just do it.” It’s still good. It’s just not the same as doing it behind closed doors.
Friend, Jesus did not argue that those who give in front of others to be seen have done wrong; indeed, He indicated that they had received their full reward. In other words, their reward in that time is the dignity, respect, applause, and acclaim of others. It’s still good, but not outstanding! Don’t judge yourself for the public ministry and good actions you’ve done; simply recognize that the larger and more abundant reward comes from God! It’s not necessarily sinful to minister for the approval of others, but it’s hypocritical and a little silly. You will still be able to help others, but you will not have the richest and most complete encounter with His goodness. Jesus’ reward is immeasurable — it’s all you could desire or dream for — so seek Him in secret and see how it transforms you.