#DailyDevotion “In Order To Be Seen By Others Or How We Just Blew Ash Wednesday”
Mat 6:1-6, 16-21 “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. (2) “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. (3) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (5) “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. (6) 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.
Well is your Ash Wednesday blown now? What do I mean? Well this gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday may just have completely blown your Ash Wednesday observance out of the window. Did you go to an Ash Wednesday service to receive the ashes on your forehead so everyone could see them and see what a pious person you are? If you did or you do, well you’ve pretty much have blown Ash Wednesday.
Let’s face it, it may take a lot of integrity on our parts to take Jesus’ words to heart and practice Ash Wednesday in such a way that is pleasing to him. He tells us to beware of practicing our righteousness before others ‘in order to be seen by them.’ Then he gives us some examples of doing that and not do that. So do we tell others about what we have done for the poor like a number of youtube videos do? Well the world may give you some credit but Jesus says those likes are all the reward you’re going to get from God. Just help people out because you know that pleasing to God. Do you make a big show of praying out in public? Do you pray extra loud in restaurants before your meal, or do you pray as you normally would at your dining room table? Jesus isn’t talking about our praying at church; we are called to pray together and for one another. But if you’re praying in such a way there to get noticed, well Jesus tells us that recognition is all we can expect from God.
Are you fasting during Lent, perhaps from some small pleasure in life. Maybe you’re denying yourself something good but you have become too attached to it. Perhaps you’re not even eating certain meals. If you tell everyone about it, well that’s all the benefit you’re getting from God. The key to this passage from Luke is Jesus’ words, “in order to be seen by others.” If you do all these good things in order to be seen by others then you’re not doing things the way your Father in heaven would want you to do them. As children of God, don’t go around trying to get credit from the world for your good deeds but as best as possible do them in secret and your Father in heaven will reward you. You will be storing up treasure in heaven.
Heavenly Father, give us faith and a right attitude that we may practice the righteousness of faith not to be seen by others, but by you alone so we may receive your praise on the day of glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.