“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Matthew 6: 1-4 The Message
Shakespeare said that “All the world’s a stage.” Yet when it comes to spirituality, we should be motivated by our hearts, and not by any human audience.
Once, I briefly considered going to the front steps of an institution I believed was corrupt. There, I planned to get on my knees, and to assume an attitude of prayer. My main motivation behind this plan was to create an impression on those who might see me. I wanted them to question the institution by seeing me on my knees, obviously in a position of prayer. Yet I realized that my actions would not tell others to focus on the institution. Instead, they would focus upon me. Thus, I quickly abandoned my idea. I was, and still am, concerned about corruption and injustice. However, prayer should never be about striking a pose. I would not have brought people to focus on the Lord, but rather to focus on me.
I am so thankful for so many people, including those in our church, who quietly, unobtrusively, and without calling attention to themselves, serve as the voices, hands, and feet of the Lord, doing His work. Each servant of the Lord is the light of God as they spread hope and love and joy in the world.
In the words from His great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear that we do, in fact, do good deeds for an audience. An audience of one: God Himself. When I preach, it is not to boast and make it about me, rather it is to be a vessel of the Lord, and to share His word. When I preach, I truly am preaching for an audience of one, the Lord alone. As we know, the Lord is always watching. It is God who matters. He will see any good that we do, for our omniscient Lord will know our intentions, motivations, and the desires behind our actions.
When our words and actions are focused on the Lord, and bringing glory to Him, we do not need our names in large letters on the theatre marquee. It is Christ alone who reads the program. It is only God who we are to be focused upon with all that we do and say. In spite of our society’s lack of recognition of Christ’s many blessings, God is always working, loving, and sustaining us. May we do the same for others…
Lord of all,
Thank You Lord, that you have given us a script on how to live, walk and speak Your Word. Help us to be vessels shining Your pure light into the world. Remind us that we seek to do good, and to bless others, not for their thanks or applause, but for Yours. Keep our hearts and our minds in the right place, for the right reasons, focused upon pleasing You. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.