Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 20: Year 1
“Truly I tell you, they have received their reward” (Matthew 6:2).
Our Lord Jesus has a huge task. He is warning the people, and us, to not be like the Pharisees in their hypocrisy. He further explains that such hypocrisy seeks the reward of people, not God.
Jesus uses examples of piety, alms giving, public prayer, and fasting, as ways that the “want-to-be” holy people draw human glory to themselves. Human glory is not of God, and it is not eternal.
Our Lord Jesus teaches us to keep a low profile. He says for us to work in secret. He asks us to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. For me this means that we should not make public the kindness we show even to those who are rude. And we should keep quiet about the giving of our money to the more needy in the world. Too many of us act as if we are running for public office and want the approval of the masses in order that we might get elected. It is narcissism, self glorification and the opposite of who God is calling us to be.
God wants us to glorify, and give thanks back to God for all that God is doing for us, the miracles that we know about, as well as the goodness that God is doing for us that we don’t know about (until later). Our Creator is continuously at work in human life providing us with what we need to sustain ourselves. God even answers unspoken prayers because God knows better than we do, what we really need. This is something to ponder.
None of us are God or even close. The best way to be more like God is not to seek glory or admiration from others, but rather to just love others, and more especially those who seem to be un-loveable. If we seek the glory and admiration of people, and then actually get it, then we have already traded our future reward of eternal life for the cheap payment of human admiration. This means we have already been paid. Let us rather hold out for the greater gift of eternity with God in Christ Jesus.
While we sometimes can’t stop people from showing us respect for being good people, we should not use this respect as some kind of public credit for personal advancement. We are called to love and serve others because God is working through us for the benefit of those around us. Therefore, we must redirect all glory to God.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John