1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Mat. 6:1-6
Why does God not want us to do things to be seen of men?
It is because it is the flesh that wants to be seen by men. It is the flesh that loves to be praised by men. God has never sought to be praised in the flesh. On the contrary, the Bible says that God is Spirit and He desires to be worshiped in the Spirit (Jn. 4:23). He seeks to be praised in the Spirit. And that verse there further says that God is seeking for those who will worship Him in the Spirit. That means that we can only please God when we are walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit does not mean speaking in tongues. On the contrary, it means having in us the character of Christ, of God. Undeniably, this is no small undertaking. We cannot carry the character of God by proclaiming, “Praise the Lord!” which some have concretized into a bona fide saintly greeting and therefore spiritual. Nor do we carry the character of God by singing gospel songs. We become spiritual by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ.
God has a problem with the flesh. The ‘mind’ of the flesh is pure evil. Pure evil. If you have any doubts about that, you can hear what the Apostle Paul has to say about his flesh:
“… for I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” (Ro. 7:18)
I used to wonder what that meant until I grew up and took a long, square look at my fleshly mind. I saw pure evil there.
The mind of the flesh is, therefore, enmity against God. Why?
“For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7)
That is the reason for the cross: to crucify our lusts and evil thoughts.
We can begin allying with God by killing the desire in us to want to appear spiritual. Only God can truly quantify our spirituality, and His measurements are taken in the secret place of a man’s heart.
That was why Jesus could heal a man and tell him to go home and to tell no one. You can imagine the commotion that would have occurred if Jesus had walked around with a 20-man television crew in tow blasting on live TV all the miracles that He did. The world would surely have been knocked off its axis, for every single man, woman and child on earth would have clogged that tiny piece of land called Israel to see the miracles.
When the Bible says that Jesus healed a man, it is so we can witness the power of God, to the glory of God. It is not for men to be applauded. Now, for that to happen, a man needs to die to himself. The spiritual exercise is the only exercise that God applauds.
There are short-minded people who sing songs like, “Oh, Lord, let my enemies live long, that they may see when you bless me.” The blessings these people are singing of are cars, houses and visas to the U.S.
That is the flesh speaking. That is a carnal mentality, a mentality that is of this world, and of the devil. The Bible says,
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…” (Mat. 5:44).
There is only one way that we can worship God and expect a reward: it is when we have crucified the lusts of the flesh in us. A singer will therefore sing, even in public, without expecting any worldly acclamation. It is not the thunderous applause that will arouse him/her. Rather, it is the thought of what Christ has accomplished for him/her on the cross.
If with God all things are possible, imagine this becoming possible in my life and yours as well. What wisdom and power the church would demonstrate!
Today, this wisdom and power is not known because, although we preach and sing with all our might, we do not demonstrate the crucified life.
It is the crucified life that brings the power and wisdom of God to fruition in our lives.
[Below: The Hillsong oldies never cease to bless]