by Latrice Mallard
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need don’t do as the hypocrites do-blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-6 NLT)
The gospel of Matthew provides clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and our Eternal King. As our Eternal King, Messiah, and Lord; He is also our best example of the way to live as a faithful servant. We are not left to guess how this should be done, especially as we learn from the Sermon on the Mount. We are provided with the very directions for living as His followers.
Matthew 6:1-6 sheds light on Jesus teaching about giving to the needy and prayer. We are forced to not only focus on the act of giving and prayer but also our motives. He teaches us that it is always best to give and pray with pure motives. He teaches us that we should not do anything to draw attention to ourselves, to appear holy, or to benefit ourselves. He teaches us to do all things to glorify Him and in response to His love. This lesson teaches us to evaluate and re-evaluate our motives daily. Yes He sees our good deeds, but He also sees and knows our motives.
Reflect now on times when you have given, prayed, or done anything. Why did you give? Why did you pray? Did you have your heart set on a specific perceived reward? Would you have still done it if no one ever knew what you did?
Recently my daughter was upset because she did not get the title of student of the year. Prior to this, she was going the extra mile on various tasks in the classroom. She could not understand why she did not get that reward. Immediately after, for one whole week her conduct grade reflected a change in her behavior. I explained to her that at that moment her true motives were revealed. Her actions were saying that she was not just simply helping just to help, but she was helping with the intention of getting a reward. She learned a valuable lesson that day: Make sure you do all things with a genuine heart and with the purest of intentions.
There are many situations that we could place here and learn this same lesson. Similar to her teacher, our Teacher, Messiah, and Lord knows our motives behind everything we do and yes they will be tested. May in everything we do and say, be God-centered and never self-centered even in times when it is tempting to do otherwise. The world needs more acts of pure and genuine love with pure and genuine motives and intentions. People need to experience God’s love, grace, and mercy through each of us. May our hearts do, say, and act to glorify and magnify our Lord. Learn this lesson today and be willing to help your brothers and sisters in Christ do the same.
Thought for the day: Evaluate your motives in all that you do and say. May it be to glorify and magnify our Lord and not ourselves.
Prayer: Lord thank you for this day. Forgive us if we have ever done, said, or prayed with motives other than to glorify you. Thank you for this timely lesson and a second chance to get it right. Help us to never approach anything else with hidden motives, but let it be simply to honor and glorify you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Latrice is a member of Jordan United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a first year seminary student. She just recently began the candidacy process for Ordained Ministry in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.