After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. 3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
How often do we do things for recognition? We can reference Mathew 6 where Jesus talks about certain spiritual things that should be done in private instead of public. Yet, we look at this speech as a set of rules instead of understanding the point. If we do anything for some sort of recognition, then it is to bring ourselves our own glory, not glory to God, which is why we should do those things in the first place. Anything else done for selfish gain is but a mere temporary reward.
This was the common practice at the time. Religious zealots, magicians, sorcerers, and the like all made public display of their works in order to get recognition of some kind. The religious zealots are looked upon as holy, the magicians are given money for their craft, the sorcerers are revered in a fearful respect. How do we do such things today? We can look at these blatant displays and shake our heads, for we would never be caught doing anything of the sort…or would we?
I believe because things like these have been pointed out in our society and accepted as shallow and weak, we tend to hide our intent better. How about false humility? We learn that to be humble is to not declare it ourselves yet we have to control ourselves and try to act humbly. Is this to ensure that we are indeed remaining humble or is it so that we will be considered humble by others?
What about grace? How often do we pardon someone who has done something against us yet we continue to hold them in contempt of our minds? Maybe we do things for others out of the “goodness of our hearts” yet over time we start to recognize that the person we give to never thanks us. We begin wondering if we should give to them again and in that very instant, grace turns to conceit.
How about faith? Throughout our personal struggles we “give thanks to God” or “put it in God’s hands” or “continue to pray for His deliverance” yet we make sure that we tell everyone we know that we are doing it. We begin to use our difficulties as an excuse to exhibit faith or the amount of faith we supposedly have.
Am I saying that these things always happen with the motivation of self recognition? No, but we must be careful of the motivations of our actions, lest we get caught up in how the world views us instead of how God views us. It is very easy to slip into this sort of behavior especially because we are encouraged when we share with others. People begin to show us their compassion and concern and we begin to feed on it like a drug.
Are we really relying on God like we say we are, or are we saying we are so that others will think we are faithful? Are we trying to be viewed as humble or are we trying to be humble because God calls us to be? Are we giving to others merely to give or because secretly we want something in return?
What is the heart behind your actions?