Applause. Compliments. Cheers. Praise. The standing ovation. These all feel really, really good. In our spotlight driven society, some will do whatever it takes to get all eyes focused on them. Just a brief glance at YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter reveals people who are groping for attention. Much of this process is trivial, except maybe for the fact that praise can inflate egos faster than helium fills balloons. However, there is at least one area where people shouldn’t be searching for public praise. This is the area of righteousness.
As Jesus delivered His brilliant “Sermon on the Mount” He makes a shift and begins to talk about people who love to receive praise from others. Five times in chapter 6, Jesus shows that these type of people publically display their righteousness in order to be “noticed by men” (vs. 1, 16, 18), “honored by men” (vs. 2), and “seen by men” (vs. 5). Ironically, those who act God-minded to be noticed by men “have no reward with the Father who is in heaven” because they have already “have their reward in full” (Matthew 6:1-18).
There are some great actors in this life who will never make it to the big screen. These are people who act righteous but aren’t truly righteous. These are people who put on a show of spirituality in order to receive praise from others. Interestingly, they are handsomely rewarded for their religious production in the form many “Likes” on Facebook and Instagram, views on YouTube, “Retweets” on Twitter, and compliments.
Certainly many are innocent in this matter. There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing something of a spiritual nature with others. In fact, the vast majority of the time it is wonderful and should be done more! However, let’s make sure we take Jesus warning seriously when He said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them…” (Matthew 6:1). Let’s examine our motives in what we are displaying to others. Let’s question ourselves about who we are actually seeking praise from. May our goal always be for the praise of God over the praise of men.