Matthew 6:1-4 NIV
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
An incident occurred where I realized I was doing just this—I wanted to be “honored” or “seen” by others. I want to give of my gifts well. I want to share what I know with others so that they may have a new insight. Even though my heart might be in the right place, sometimes when I speak truth it comes across as condescending, critical, harsh, and flat out mean.
The funny thing is, I’m usually only that way when I am trying to prove myself. When I’m internally the little girl who had to doin order to be seen. I felt I had to perform, prove I was good enough to get attention. No matter if my heart’s intentions are good or not, I have to remember whatever spills from my mouth is an overflow of my heart. If my heart is broken with certain people, my mouth will spill out the brokenness. If my heart is whole and pure and has nothing to prove, my mouth spills compassion and urgency and love and encouragement.
In these verses I’m reminded, I do not have to prove myself as righteous or changed to anyone. I just need to be. I need to live that way and live changed. That means my responses need to change. That means I must deal with my resentments and really put them to rest finally. That means I must not let people’s opinions, choices, and behaviors dictate who I am.
You know, I have a few very close friends with permission to reel me back in when I fly off the handle. One such friend did that this past week. She taught me that I really haven’t grieved what should be versus what is. And that hurts. Realizing that I will never have what I want and yet being okay with that is the next level. That means I don’t need to keep proving myself to people who will never change. Or if they do change, it won’t be because of me. That’s not my job.
I didn’t think I was trying to prove my righteousness, goodness, or right-ness but I was trying to prove myself anyway. Instead of coming across loving, compassionate, and openly, I came across as an unapproachable witch, and that’s putting it kindly. What’s worse? I’ve been doing this for years. Responding that way to certain people is a coping mechanism for a trigger I have of not being seen and not being enough.
What Jesus is saying here though is that I don’t have to do anything to prove my righteousness to any single person. I don’t have to worry about being seen by any single person, either. You see the problem is, I was saying and behaving in a way that was trying to get human approval. But Jesus promises a future reward to those who do their righteous deeds “in secret” rather than acting to be seen.
Do you struggle with being seen and known?
What are some behaviors you exhibit out of the need to be seen?
What will it take for you to fully grasp you are seen and known by God, and that is enough?