Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement: Who is it all About?

Matthew 6:5-21 (NIV) ~

“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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But 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.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I spent the afternoon yesterday with a chair in the woods and an inspirational book.  As I sat there in the silence, I have never felt closer to the Lord.  I read, I prayed and I thought.  There was just me, nature and my heavenly Father.  No cell phone, no internet, no Facebook or social media.  And I loved it. 

As I read this passage, it makes me realize how easy it is to get sucked into the vortex of social media.  As I read statuses or blogs, I read how this one did this wonderful deed or how another is praying for a particular issue.  I hear about the latest spiritual fast someone else is doing and I have to wonder how many of these posts are about getting others to look at them?  And if I'm honest, how many times have I posted something with just a twinge of pride and my own "look at me" deep down attitude. 

And this is exactly the attitude Jesus warned against in this passage.  It's not about me and it's not about you.  Our righteous acts should not be worn as a banner across our chest.  They should be done in quietness and without looking for accolades.  Is it because no one should never know the good we do?  No.  It's not that.

It's because God knows how painfully sinful we are and how easily we fall into the sin of self-promotion.  We get puffed up and prideful.  For some it may be a lack of self-esteem and a way to draw attention.  For others, it may just be a swelled head. :-)  For others, it's a way to make oneself feel better.

If you look at the last verses listed above, our treasure should not be stored up here. It's not just talking about money.  Don't look to people's affirmation and opinions as the be all and end all to your life.  Live your life quietly and for the Lord ONLY.  If no one ever knew any of the good things you did, would you feel like your life still has a purpose and meaning?  If not one other person on the entire planet knew of our righteous acts, would you still do them? 

Our acts of righteousness should be done for the Lord alone because in the end it will only be me and Him.  When everything and everyone is stripped away, it is just the Lord.  I want my treasure to be stored in the right place.

How about you?