The Praise of Men

Continued from The Blessing

 I have been thinking much about the topics of wealth and faith, provision and blessing, and poverty and riches over the past week or so. Below is part two of at least a two part series on these topics. This is a bit of a continuation of  “1. The Blessing,” and may be a bit of a sidetrack.

It is not only wealth that can capture our hearts; a desire to be honored by man, to have influence or reputation for our own purposes, to have power or control over others, to be well known, etc. can fill our hearts, thoughts and actions.
Jesus addresses the desire for honor and praise from men when he says in Matthew 6:1-4:

Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Jesus warns us about our motives for serving and giving. Is our motivation to be honored by men? Then that will be our reward. Is our motivation to honor God? Then He and all that is His will be our reward.

Again he says in Matthew 6:5-6:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth,they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (italics mine)

The reward options here: be seen by men or be seen by God. The point in these two examples is not the “doing it in secret” so we are always being weird about what, where and how we serve and worship God. The point is its all about the heart attitude and motive behind the behaviors. Serving and praying will look the same from the outside whether the heart posture on the inside is bent towards God or not. With this in mind as you read the Gospels you will find many examples of Jesus addressing one’s actual heart condition as either concurrent with, or divergent from his actions. Those he names hypocrites are those whose actions do not match their convictions.

I heard a minister once tell of a man he knows who, rather than give God just the tithe (10%) of his income, gave away 90% of his income, keeping only 10% for himself. The minister told us that this man lived better on the 10% than most people will ever have the opportunity to live. Let me make it clear, he went on to describe homes and cars, and luxury.  I believe that because of this man’s choice and concurrent heart condition, God was able to pour incredible financial wealth into his life, knowing that it would be used however God asked him to use it. Because this man’s heart was not attached to wealth, he could enjoy it or give it away and his heart was not attached to it, but to God.

This seems to be the case as I watch people placed in positions of influence and authority. Those that are not attached to the honor, influence, position or wealth that men can bestow upon them, will be the ones that God can use in those areas to bring glory to himself.  These are the people that will have great honor, influence or wealth.
As you spend time with God this week ask Him to help you examine your heart and true motivations. Are you really living to please God, or man?

Thanks for reading… more to come. I would love to hear your comments.