Matthew 6:1 – “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” NASB
The whole of Matthew Chapter Six can be viewed as a basic guide for ‘Godly Living.’ It covers a wide gamut of topics and areas of life, and there is a tendency and temptation to allow a motive other than godliness to reign. I begin with verse one because it opens the door and deals with the human ego and reveals how easily we can allow something other than service for service to determine what we do in life.
I am sure all of us are aware of people who take great pains to ensure everyone notices what they do. Their acts of benevolence are done in such a manner as to call attention to them. I have witnessed church splits and ministry divisions in which the roots were directly connected to ‘human ego’ and ‘jealousy.’ One of the reasons that many local churches do not achieve the prominence and effectiveness that God desires is rooted in this human frailty and flaw.
I have known men and women in the lead position congregations who were unable to allow the gifts in others to function fully and effectively because it diverted attention from themselves. They needed to be noticed, and anything or anyone that detracted from that notice became a thorn in the side and, at times, an enemy.
If it is God’s church and He is the builder and owner, then we are managers or stewards of that which is His. If He has placed gifts and talents in the church, it is vital that we recognize the benefits of those and utilize them fully without fear of our being diminished. We need to remind ourselves of the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
If we do what we do for recognition and notice, we seek ‘fulfillment’ from the wrong source. It is not the praise of men that gives us significance; it is the Hand of God upon us. It is Who we are in Him. We are members of the Body of Christ, and He has chosen our position and function; as in the human body, all the parts must work in harmony for health and life.
I am reminded of the analogy of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12. He reminded the Corinthians that the human and spiritual body is not any individual or individual part but many parts linked to producing life and health.
- The hand is part of the body, not the primary focus.
- The ear is part of the body and contributes significantly to the overall function, but it is not the primary focus.
- The eye is very beneficial in the operation of the body, but even the eye is not the primary focus, nor does it stand alone.
- The head, which houses our brain, is vital to life.
If we understand that we are not the Head, Jesus is, we will find it much easier to function as a unified body working in harmony and utilizing all the parts and functions. Your title does not make you important; God’s purpose does.
I do not call myself anything but a Child of God because I have never wanted people to notice me and extend flattery to me. I am human and battle human ego like others, so I guard my life desiring what I do will call attention to God, not me. Paul dealt with the Corinthians in another place as they divided into sects and cliques, saying, “I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, I’m of Cephas, or I’m of Christ” which only called attention to themselves, not the Kingdom of God.
The identifier, Christian, is the only identifier we need. If you see me functioning in a gift, know that God chose to use me in that gift for that time and for that purpose. I have instructed congregations that I have led, “Do not look at me; look at Jesus. If you find what I’m teaching and preaching is consistent with God’s word, embrace it; if not, bring it to me, and let’s come to a clearer understanding together.”
When I departed churches, I usually pleaded with people, “Do not refer to Roy Beaird in the future as some benchmark or guide. Refer to the Word of God and work with the new leadership to fulfill the purposes of God in this community.” I said and meant it wholeheartedly, “I do not care if people remember who I am if they will remember the truth that I presented and allow that to transform and guide their lives.” I am not the focus; God is!
Any sense of significance we gain from the recognition of others is fleeting. The fulfillment in serving God from a pure heart produces contentment beyond human understanding is what is important. Whatever we do, we need to guard against doing what we do for the recognition of others. My prayer is, “Lord make the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart pleasing in your site. Guard and guide my steps and help me to decrease that you might increase in my life.”
God, bless you as you empty yourself of yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with His fullness. Walk in abundant blessings today!