It is hard not to want to be recognized by others for your hard work. Even people you minister to one-to-one — it’s hard not to desire some form of appreciation for the time you spend with them. Yet our focus should be not on receiving praise from other people, but on serving God.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” I think this passage is telling us to check our motive for doing something. If we are only doing an act of service to “be noticed by them,” then our heart is in the wrong place. Our focus should be on serving God in His Spirit.
In Matthew 6:2-34 Jesus then proceeds to give guidance on how we should practice our faith with an orientation toward God. He tells us how to give to the poor; how to pray; how to forgive; how to fast; what treasures we should store up; to fill our eyes with light; to serve only God as master; and to not worry. He then tells us in verse 33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
The world is full of concerns, troubles and distractions. It can mislead us into seeking recognition from other people. It can motivate us to pursue things with the wrong intent. Even our prayers can be misguided. But Jesus tells us to put God first in all you do, then your heart will be focused on the right motivation. Your acts of service may not be recognized by others, but God sees all you do; and those you serve will also see your heart for God.
© 2021 CGThelen