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Today’s reference and reflection comes from Matthew 6:1-15 (with much emphasis on the foremost part in verses 1-4). It’s a classic passage yet often overlooked when one is consumed by their emotions and awe of another, especially towards others whom we assume are called by the LORD. I say the latter part with such stringency, purely because of the countless fallen leaders among our churches of today.

As a man of few words (in-person, not in blog form), I genuinely fear the LORD my God. I fear the LORD because I fear His wrath and judgement when I sin against Him. I know when I upset my Heavenly Father. And though I am a child of God, forgiven in His grace and abundant love, I strive to not take advantage of His love, grace and mercy, and instead, live a life that pleases Him.

I never set out to please others, even in a work environment… I naturally strive to do the best job that I can achieve in the timeframe and role that I have, but I never climb up people’s backsides. Personally, I’m not a fan of buttering up to others or pursuing people of interest (i.e. pursuing an attractive girl, or securing a particular job, or eyeing a person over a worthless favour).

The One whom I want to please is the LORD. And though I’m a slow reader, I do strive in my utmost ability and in God’s strength to abide and follow the Holy Scriptures and put His Word into practice. Since my student days in Dundee, I’ve been inspired to live out Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV), which reads as follows:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Returning back to Matthew 6:1-15. I am aware of a believer’s code of conduct, if it were, to give to the poor and pray to God, but do we need to broadcast our “righteous” deeds? Is it counter-productive in maturing as born-again believers? At the end of the day, the moment we broadcast our deeds, we actually achieve nothing.

Matthew 6:1-4 is something of an interesting passage for the 21st Century Church. Certain denominations sponge off the need to broadcast the good works of a local church or a particular ministry. They think that broadcasting equals progress with God’s work in a local community. At the same time, it depends on the nature of the broadcast itself. Notice that baptismal testimonies (and testimonies of folk coming to faith through various ministries) are often more sincere than the public good deeds of a local church, because the former is the one that pleases and gives God the glory. The latter creates a layer of pride within a congregation, even those who don’t actually serve (for various reasons), yet there is a feel good factor when one is associated with a serving church.

I know of a dear sister in Christ, whom I see as a grandmother. Her name is Minnie, and if my memory is correct, she is over 95 years of age. She is a devoted sister in Christ. Minnie loves doing things in secret. However, she genuinely hates it when her good deeds are noticed and is broadcasted to the church… such as making pancakes for over a hundred children at a kids club during the seasonal programmes each year. I feel for Minnie, because she is one who genuinely loves to serve others in Christ without question and without grandeur. She is a Christian who simply gets on with it… i.e. serving diligently.

I also know of younger brothers in Christ who seem to think they are something like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar.

“Oh… look at me, I fed a homeless bloke! Pray with ME!”

“Look at me, I adopted a child from Africa and named him Bob! Pray with ME!”

It’s nice that folk have news to share, but if you genuinely want to please the LORD and not come across as a self-righteous hypocrite. Don’t garner attention like the self-righteous celebrities of today’s society. That’s called philanthropy, which is based upon public acts and self-seeking glorification. God calls us to serve the needy, and sound no trumpet in doing so.

The attitude reminds me of a similar, yet different way in attracting praise when we want to reward ourselves. During my tender years at elementary school, we often drew pictures during art sessions. I never asked for a critique from my peers, I was too transpired by what I wanted to draw and create. Others however, had to interject with an innocent comment “My picture looks rubbish!” Our group would stop drawing and take notice. We would all look up and in our own tender eyes of deception, we would think, “Oh wow! Cool.” We often replied with words of encouragement. However, it grew old, as folk simply voiced such remarks simply to seek attention of self-worth.

Part of the problem is that people hate feeling vulnerable, much like I struggle to write blogs, because it exposes my experience in digital pixels, as I wrestle with everyday life. Instead, people would rather gloat over the good, hence why we literally struggle to converse our profound hardship of everyday life with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our heads are tilted at right angles that we look like we are walking among the clouds in a very Picasso-esque fashion.

And this is why I enjoy Casting Crown, the contemporary Christian music band and the song Stained Glass Masquerade, which I shall let you Google the lyrics and study for yourselves.

With that in mind, I shall quietly meditate on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

~Richard