“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Jesus now turned in the Sermon on the Mount to three areas where religious leaders distort worship:
The first verse gives the over-arching negative principle for worship.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds
We can translate “take heed” as beware. This is a warning that stands over the entire chapter. The idea is “hold your mind fastened on this.” This is an all-encompassing maxim.
before men, to be seen by them.
Jesus continued the Sermon on the Mount with a warning against doing what we do to impress men. There is a wrong way to do the right thing. It is not enough to do a good deed; the deed must be done with the right motive.
The motive is the issue, not the deed itself. The motive of some people is to gain public approbation. This was the sin of religious leaders. Public recognition is a sin of religious service. This is the sin of attracting attention and public applause to self.
Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
The name “Father” occurs 10 times in the first 18 verses. All that we do should be done for Him. God will duly recognize what we do one day. Reward is the issue here, not eternal life.
All service should be God-centered rather than self-centered.
Praise from men is a dangerous thing when it comes to serving God. It is necessary to make sure our motives are right in serving God. The temptation here is to live with a phony front. By putting on this front, we are not real or genuine before God. This leads to hypocrisy. We place more emphasis on status symbols than on reality. Public relations are more important than truth.
Living for the praise of men gives us temporal reward, not eternal reward. The desire for publicity is rampant in evangelical circles today. If we call attention to self, we live for the glory of self rather than the glory of God. Our concern should be with God’s evaluation of what we do rather than whether men glorify us. We can do good things with wrong or ulterior motives.
Many Christians are fooled by façade. They think they are on top of the totem pole because they have a large church, success among evangelicals, or recognition by a great number of people. However, they are on the bottom of the totem pole from God’s viewpoint. Their pursuit of stimulation from others is obnoxious to God. Many people seek recognition in the local church. Their lives are mundane all week, so they come to church for stimulation. This is approbation lust. They cannot succeed in other places, so they seek success in the local church. This is the worst form of drug in the world. It is highly addicting.
Much church activity is one-upmanship, a striving to gain a reputation as the greatest and best church, where reputation and recognition are more important than character.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Co 10:31