Thursday, March 7   Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21             Shane Mullin

“Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. 5“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 6 But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

16 “And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. 17 When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. 18 Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them.20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them.21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

One of the most difficult lessons to learn as a child is that, no matter how much we may want them to, not everyone will notice us or what we’re doing. For people who starred as the lead in a play, who sang solos in choir, who were picked as team captain, or who garnered positive attention for any number of things, it can be hard to not always be the one in the spotlight. Some other people, however, never wanted to be in the spotlight, they really didn’t want to be noticed by a lot of people – but even they wanted someone to notice them. In this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is making sure that his disciples know that they shouldn’t allow their faith practices to become too “showy.” Jesus knows that when we draw too much attention to ourselves in that way, we run the risk of losing our focus – we forget that we aren’t meant to pray or do good things for others for recognition, but because God has asked us to do them. Yet, this is a difficult practice because it’s very human to want to be noticed or acknowledged. Through this teaching, Jesus reminds us that other people are the secondary audience for how we live our lives, not the primary one – our primary audience is God. So, may we be people who live with the courage to pray and serve others, even if it is only God who notices our actions.

Pray today for the courage to persevere in following Jesus even if others don’t know what you’re doing.