|Verse:||Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21|
6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever 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.
6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We all crave a bit of attention. We want people to know how busy we are, how happy we are, or how sad we are. Sometimes we do this in order to share our feelings with others and to simply enjoy human company. But sometimes we crave attention in order to impress others. “I'm tired because I just ran 20 miles.” “I'm sad because I only made 92 on that calculus exam.” “I was only able to read half of the gospel of Matthew last night.” Personally, Matthew Chapter 6 is as far as I got over an entire week.
However, that passage was enough to remind me that people throughout the ages have struggled with the desire for a bit of attention — sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes not. Jesus wants us to know that worshipping God is not about getting attention from others. Perhaps His examples are not as timely as the ones above, but they are certainly vivid. Worship of God is about a relationship with God and not about getting attention from others. Jesus reminds us that our true rewards are those that flow from God and not those we gain by getting attention.
Dear God, help us to remember that worship is about the relationship we have with you and not about impressing others. Give us guidance when we stray from that goal and we think our destiny is determined by the praise of others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Try to think of an example when you might have fallen into the trap of using God to get attention from others. Can you think of a strategy you might use to turn those moments into real worship of God?