"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them ..." Matthew 6:1a (ESV)
My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially "bigger." He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.
After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.
He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.
I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.
That dish wasn't just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.
Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, "Aren't you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?"
I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.
My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being "on camera" was an important part of his good works.
So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.
And then I was convicted.
Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.
How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?
How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?
How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?
And He's always most interested in my heart.
The Bible is clear. God doesn't want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.
Even if no one else is watching.
When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!
When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that's OK.
In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it's OK.
And that's OK if you do, too.
The good news I've learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He's willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.
The interaction with my son reminded me to do a "heart check."
Even if no one is watching, when I'm not "on camera," I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.
Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I'm honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
When was the last time you joyfully served others when there was no applause?
How does your treatment of people outside your home compare to the treatment of the people down the hallway?
How much excellent effort do you put forth if no one is there to see how hard you work at the task at hand?
Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)
© 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105