As I continued soaking up the teachings of Jesus, He revealed three specific areas where He wanted His followers to avoid making a show: doing good deeds, praying, and fasting. The bottom line is: avoid “a performance”. He counseled those who want to be their best for God to avoid making a show in order to impress others.
Jesus taught quite plainly, “Don’t make a show of the good deeds you do so that people will see and reward you with the temporal praises of men.” (Matt. 6:1-4). He knew our propensity to get filled up with pride and to get somewhat full of ourselves. When we are full of ourselves, less room exists for Him. He is quite particular about wanting all of me and you. He assures us of a reward for our efforts, but gives us the opportunity to choose the immediate, temporal, offerings of man or the creative, eternal, God-selected honor that only He can offer. There is no “both” option. Hmmm? Treasures selected by God or applause along with a nice wooden plaque? Each of us gets to choose!
Jesus made it clear that we should not “make a show of praying to emphasize our piousness.” (Matt. 6:5-13) He doesn’t want us to pray rote prayers just for the sake of looking religious. He prefers secret, heart-felt prayers that fit the need. He even took into consideration that someone might be ignorant about how to pray. So, He gave us an example by praying the now famous prayer known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6: 9-13). He is for meus and wants us to prevail and make the choices that will please His Father, our Father, in heaven. He took the opportunity to warn us that the forgiveness we ask to receive is dependent upon the forgiveness we are willing to offer others. Again, He assures us that God hears and will reward our obedience.
Jesus also taught, “Don’t make a show of fasting” (going without food to focus on prayer). (Matt. 6:16-18) We are not to appear any different during days we are fasting than during the days we’ve had a satisfying, full meal. We are to be spruced up and smiling, ready to fulfill our day with confidence in His promise to see us through.
God wants an intimate relationship with His children. There is a special closeness in the secret knowing between us and God…the God who lays up heavenly treasures for His children. When our hearts are rooted in heavenly treasures, we don’t have to worry about food, water, or clothing. We must seek first the Kingdom of God, be full of faith, believing that He can and will provide what He has promised. Jesus encourages us to humbly and purposefully seek out this precious aspect of life with God. He wants us to know that what we do secretly, God sees and will reward openly – from His treasure chest of heavenly rewards. There is no need to perform. God sees and knows.