Andy Warhol is credited with the statement about everybody wanting his own 15 minutes of fame. Joe Rogan has observed, “People want their 15 minutes and are willing to do anything to get it.”
Public recognition goes by several names: limelight, hype, prominence, fuss, commotion, spotlight, eminence, glare, center stage, top billing, public notice, recognition, notability, and notoriety. I realize that more concepts can be added to the list. It is natural for us to want to be accepted, valued, and to feel good about ourselves. Unfortunately, we all too often seek this from others when we should seek it from God. This lesson is about our lives being real between us and the Lord.
Matthew 6:1-6 lists three of the ways that our lives should be more focused on God than on someone else’s opinion.
I. Our actions should be for God’s approval
Matthew 6:1 says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” This verse is very straightforward. People can be tempted to do something nice because they have an ulterior motive. They want to be liked and might even go out of their way to make sure others see what they did and “just happen” to bring it up in conversation.
James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” It is important to realize that the issue is not about who is watching. The topic is to always do the right thing because of Who is watching.
“The measure of a life, after all,
is not its duration, but its donation.”
Corrie Ten Boom
II. Our giving should be for God’s approval
Matthew 6:2-4 says, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It is interesting how often the Lord talks about money and giving. I think He realized how important (or too important) it would be in our lives and He wants to protect us from ourselves.
Alex Cook was a “successful” financial planner who sold his company, “retired,” and now strives to help Christians better manage their finances. He wrote, “It often surprises Christians when they discover just how much the Bible talks about money. In fact there are more than 2300 verses on money, wealth and possessions. Jesus spoke about money roughly 15% of his preaching and 11 out of 39 parables. It was his most talked about topic.”
Henry Drummond adds, “The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having or getting anything, but only in giving.”
John Wesley said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
Matthew continues in chapter 6 verses 19-21 saying, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
III. Our prayers should be for God’s approval
Matthew 6:5-6 says, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when 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.” We have discussed giving in our actions and finances, but prayer can also be viewed as a way of giving. We are giving God our time, worship, and full control.
Public prayer should be shorter and not showy. Private prayer should be constant. I love the statement by Corrie Ten Boom, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
“God made all of His creation to give.
He made the sun, the moon, the stars,
the clouds, the earth, the plants to give.
He also designed His supreme creation, man, to give.
But fallen man is the most reluctant giver
in all of God’s creation.”