When we look in Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus is there on the mountain teaching His disciples. In these verses, Jesus addresses two different subjects that have at least one common element. Jesus is speaking to his disciples in regard to performing charitable deeds and offering up prayers to the Lord. A warning is given for both of these situations to not do things in order to be seen by men but to instead perform them before the Lord. If you have you ever received an honor or an award for something you have been a part of or accomplished, or if anybody has ever walked up to you and just simply said thank you for your hard work, you know how nice it can feel to be recognized for your accomplishments. Most people like to feel appreciated, and it is a nice thing to recognize people for a job well done. But we must be careful that our desire to be appreciated and receive recognition does not become our focus and supersede our desire and willingness to work for the Lord and give God the glory.
In the case of Matthew 6, charitable deeds were being done so that people would see how great the individual was. Prayers were being offered so people could see how well versed a person was and how smoothly and eloquently a person could speak. According to verses 2 and 5, we are clearly shown that those that do acts of charity or that pray, in order to be seen by men, have already received their reward. I wish I could say that this is something that was only common in the first century, but if we are truly honest with ourselves, we can all admit that self-glorification and seeking the approval of man is just as much a problem today as it has ever been. Do we really want to be rewarded by men in this life instead of by the Lord in eternity? If we are not careful, we will find ourselves caught up in self-glorification, and we will lose sight of what our real purpose is as children of God.
There are a few verses I want us to consider as we think about giving God the glory instead of taking all the glory for ourselves. The first verse is in Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Selfish ambition takes the focus away from serving others, and it definitely takes the focus away from serving God. As we live and serve, we are to demonstrate the lessons we learn from passages such as this and stop making everything we do about ourselves. It’s not about us. It’s not about us being appreciated or recognized. It’s all about God. Now that does not mean that we are not to let our light shine. It is perfectly ok to serve openly. In fact, Matthew 5:16 encourages our service. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” But notice the point from this verse. As people see our work and the light that is in us, they must also see the source of that light and give Him all the glory.
That brings us to Colossians 3:17. Up to this point, we have seen that we should seek the approval of God rather than man. We have discussed how our lives are to cause others to glorify God rather than elevate ourselves. But how are we going to glorify God? Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We can glorify God by being a people that work, by speaking the truth of His Word, and by representing Him everywhere that we go and in everything that we do. We can glorify God by simply taking a moment to stop and give thanks to God for all that He has done and for all that He continues to do.
How will you glorify God today? May God be glorified.