Jesus said, “Make sure you don’t parade the right you do in public, so as to impress people; if you do, you won’t have a reward from your heavenly Father.”
— Matthew 6:1 (USC)
Kudos. Favour. Praise. Acclaim. Credit. Applause. Compliments. We all like such responses of kindness, flattery, or worth. When life runs our way there is plenty of this that we get that we thrive on. But when we don’t get it, it can mess with our sense of self.
We want the opportunity to impress as much as we want to receive the credit that is ‘due’ us.
But Jesus reminds us in this section of his Sermon Mount that the concerns of pride have no place in the kingdom of God. Yet, even us Christians (especially us Christians) are involved in wanting recognition from the world when the only recognition that counts is from the Lord. A big part of our problem emanates from the sincere motive to make a difference in the world and be set apart such that our witness attracts people to the gospel. Little do we often realise, those yet to believe are more likely to notice as curiously strange the good we do for no credit.
The only way we can feel like we should feel – from within the Kingdom – is to actually reverse the flow of blessing coming to us. Whenever we insist on being focused on achieving the will of God – to receive feedback, but to deflect it in praise to others – God ensures our humility remains in sight.
We know the rewards of the Father we lose when we are found looking for praise, when we are praised, or when we notice the good others do that we are envious of.
These losses are not felt when we finally arrive in eternity. We lose them now, because rewards find the pure of heart. The person who does not want the reward gets it. God rewards them because they don’t seek it.
The way of the Kingdom is the way of the heart. Only those who are pure of heart have the chance of experiencing the rewards of the Father.
God’s kingdom way is to pay the favour forward. Favour is not to be enjoyed as much as it’s to be used to bless others.
To gain the Kingdom we must keep the salvation we cannot lose and lose the self which we cannot keep.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. “Giving away what we cannot keep is keeping what we cannot lose.” What is noticeable from a Kingdom point of view in this statement?
2. What aspects of ‘paying it forward’ are personally alluring and what aspects are unattractive?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.