I continued to hang out in Matthew 6, this morning. As I was studying prayer – the Lord’s Prayer, specifically – I kept seeing something else.
“Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18)
I love how God sees us.
He doesn’t just see the external. He sees into our hearts. He’s familiar with everything about us – from beginning to end. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He wants what is best for us. Not always what makes us “happy,” but always what is GOOD.
He is very interested in our character…our integrity…who we are when no one else is around.
“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. Matthew 6:1-4 (emphasis mine)
When others see us giving, it can bring glory to God and motivate others to give, as well. However, we should be willing to (and seek to) give, even if no one else ever sees what we have done. We should not give to receive praise from others. Our motivation for giving should be to please the Father. It is to help those He has placed in front of us and to bring glory to Him, alone. God should always be our focus. And He will reward what is done in secret.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8 (emphasis mine)
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 (emphasis mine)
Public prayer and fasting (such as a corporate fast), can bring us together as the Body – corporately connecting us to God and bringing glory to the Father. However, this too, can be used to steal glory from God. Prayer and fasting is about turning our hearts toward God. If we are praying or fasting to receive praise and accolades from others, then our motivation is not only entirely wrong, but we have stolen what rightfully belongs to God. When we pray and fast with the right motivation, we draw closer to God…and He will reward what is done in secret.
Matthew 6 goes on to talk about storing up treasure in Heaven:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (emphasis mine)
Our treasure should always be with the Father. Rewards from Him – stored and protected by Him – for His glory and for our good.
He is a good, good Father who sees us, loves us and wants what is best for us. His heart is always right toward us…and He longs for our hearts to be right toward Him. This can only be accomplished when we are intimately connected to Him…when we shut the door and meet with Him, face-to-face, in secret.