…this may deal more with motivation than with result.
Matt 6 begins…
1“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
So, my first question is ‘what is our motivation for serving and giving to the poor?’
Is it to receive rewards in heaven, or is to receive rewards here on earth? It sounds like the answer to this question then sits within the context of how we served (either out in the open or done in privately).
Honestly, with the work we do within the Cobblestone Project, this question has been put to us from time to time (and fairly so). It’s a question we all have to answer and reconcile within our hearts and minds as to our true motivation.
However, before I continue, I think it is interesting that Jesus pairs this message of serving and giving to the poor publicly with prayer in public.
5“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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But 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. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him
and then Jesus goes on to instruct us how to pray.
I return to my earlier question, ‘what is our motivation for praying this way?’, and I again return to context. Is it to receive rewards in heaven or here on earth?
Honestly, within the work we do within the Cobblestone Project, the question of why we don’t pray in public has come up from time to time (and fairly so). It’s a question we all have to answer and reconcile within our hearts and minds as to our true motivation.
Side note: it is interesting to me that it is typically the people who question why we display our ‘works’ who are also the same people who question why we don’t pray.
I believe this is where I have personally settled, and I believe it is quite simple.
I don’t pursue or subscribe to a rewards based theology.
Think about the consequences of me pursuing a rewards based marriage or a rewards based friendship. It simply doesn’t work in that context, so why would I assume that it would work in the context of my relationship with the Creator of the universe?
I am simply pursuing to love, to serve and to pray out of the excess of my heart and only because of what our Father has already done for me. I simply do not know what else to do.
If God is the great “accountant” in the sky who keeps track of my works and prayers here on earth, I guess I am wrong. However, at the end of the day, I truly know who I am. I am an adopted son of the Creator of the universe because of my faith alone, and it is because of this that I know that I have already received everything.
I simply have nothing more to gain.
…let me say that again.
I simply have nothing more to gain.
I not sure that our culture largely understands or believes this issue of identity, because if we truly know who we are, we don’t have to be told what to do. Would love your thoughts and observations. Grace & Peace.