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.
6:2 “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.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 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.
6:6 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.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 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.
6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Living a godly life is not meant to be done so that others can give you praise for it. Living for God is something that our hearts should yearn to do, not because that is what will gain us spiritual points with others or with God, but because we find joy in looking to bring Glory to God with our lives.
Jesus here is explaining to His disciples that there are those who can play the part of being a Christian and yet their hearts are disconnected from truly wanting to serve Christ. Their desire lies mostly in what others will think of them when they do things to help serve the church and others in need. They want to be known as one who truly has a desire to serve God, yet on the inside their motives is to seek praise for it.
Christ clearly says that we do not earn any favor from God when we serve Him with the goal of seeking praise. He does however, explain that what truly shows that we are genuine is when we pray and fast in secret. It is there that we show God that we want to worship and serve Him because we are driven by a love for Him. No one is there to witness our prayers or acts of worship and therefore God sees that our hearts are truly genuine in pursuing a deeper relationship with Him.
Serving God and praying in the open is not a bad thing. Christ is not condemning those who serve and have a heart to worship Him in public. He is however pointing out that we need to examine our hearts and search to see if there is any motive that is causing us to seek attention from others. When we point our hearts at truly loving God, it is there that we see where our true desire and treasure lies. Commit yourself to worshiping and serving God with an open and genuine heart and allow for Him to point all that you do, for His glory alone.