Secret Righteousness - A Path to Blessing

Sam Petitfils

“Be careful not to do your righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 6:1

Most of us have heard of the phrase, “secret sin,” where people do or say things they think are hidden, but really are not because God sees and hears all things.  But what about “secret righteousness”?

Jesus, in the verse above, warns against performing good deeds to be seen of others, or for some present reward or recognition.  In fact, He encourages His followers to do good in secret (v. 3), with the promise that our all-seeing heavenly Father will reward us.

People can get clever in the ways they draw attention to their good deeds.  They can give “praise reports,” where they seem to be the hero of their own stories.  Or they commend a brother or sister for their spiritual progress, and then work in how much time they have invested in them.  Somehow they leak out all the good things they have done.  Jesus urges us not to follow this pattern, likening it to “the hypocrites” (v. 5).  When we parade our deeds before others, we lose our heavenly reward (v. 1), and expose motives that are less than pure.

This does not mean we should never perform any public good deed, for then we could never attend a worship service where people sing and preach for the benefit of others.  They do it publicly, as God has called them to do.  It simply means we should not call attention to ourselves and the good things we have done.  We should “let another praise you, and not your own mouth” (Proverbs 27:2).  It also means we should habitually do good things, like Jesus did, without regard for who takes notice (Acts 10:38).

The Bible does not indicate that a desire for reward is necessarily wrong.  One day, our heavenly Father will reward us for what we have done (Matthew 6:1; 25:34-40).  We should strive to please God and welcome His kind recognition of our good deeds and actions.  But we need to take our eyes off of man and cease serving just for temporal recognition or to achieve some earthly status.

Jesus calls us to search our hearts and evaluate our motives.  Do we do good deeds only to be seen of others? Do we announce to others all the good we have done?  Do we always cast ourselves in the best possible light?

Remember that “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).  When we live for Him and perform good deeds for His glory, we exercise faith that He sees and is pleased with our lives.  You have heard the cynical expression, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  Actually, no good deed goes unnoticed by God.


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