Jakob wraps up his first football season on Saturday. It’s been fun and frustrating watching him. I have fun, because he just a way of making me smile, especially if he’s having a good time. I’ve been frustrated, because he doesn’t always know what he’s doing. He gets confused, frustrated, and timid. Sometimes I’ll call out instruction to him, like “Jakob, pay attention!” Or, “Jakob, be ready.” Or sometimes, “Jakob, be in the play!” Because frankly, paying attention and being ready aren’t his strengths on the field. Every time I say something to him, he’ll respond. He’ll put his hands on his knees or do his variation of the 3-point stance, and then he’ll look at me. This? Am I doing okay now? I’ll give him a smile and a thumbs up, and he’ll wait for the play. After the play, sometimes his coach will say something to him. Maybe he’ll tell him that he did a good job. But he’ll look to me and Sarah again, with a questioning thumbs up. He’s not confidently giving us a thumbs up. He’s asking us, Was that good? Did I do okay? He wants our input on his efforts, regardless of what anyone says. He always looks to us.
Just the same, a Christian should always be looking to Christ, wondering in light of His example, are we doing okay. We may say something or do something, and it may result in the praise of other people. And there’s nothing wrong with being complimented. But when we allow the praise of other people to cause us to act a certain way and satisfy us and keep us from wondering what God thinks of our actions, or words, and the heart out of which we are saying and doing them, we have exchanged an innocent thing and made it an idol. When we begin to do things in a way that draws attention to us, we have crossed a line.
In Matthew 6:1, Jesus said, ““Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Don’t do something and wait for people to affirm if you are doing okay. Don’t practice public righteousness for credit, attention, or positive public opinion.
In Matthew 6:2, Jesus said, ““Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
In Matthew 6:5, Jesus said, ““And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
In Matthew 6:16, Jesus said, ” “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Every single time, He counters His Do not with do this before God and for His approval. Everything you do, look to Jesus. Even when other people incidentally see, look to God and make sure you’re doing what He expects, not just what other people admire.