To Be Seen

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 (Matthew 6:1).

The number of eggs that the chickens produced was perhaps anybody’s guess. But all that was seen was the refusal of the couple to give away any, even to their closest relatives. There was no preferential treatment--all were required to pay if they wanted any one of the eggs the chickens had laid. “How greedy,” the town’s people must have thought, “for how could anyone not even share some of their prosperity even with those closest to them?” But their thoughts betrayed them from the truth. For they easily perceived the worse and blinded their own eyes from the possibilities. It was only sometime after Mrs. Spurgeon died that others learned the truth behind Charles and his wife’s actions. For it was the money from the sale of the eggs that supported two widows in their old age--for so it was their purpose of the sale of the eggs--and so it was the reason for their persistence in collecting payments.
It seems that Charles Spurgeon and his wife saw that it was no one else’s business as to the truth behind what they did. They had chosen to set aside a portion as a gift to some who had need. They did not choose to display their giving so as to gain the attentions of others. Or so others would see what they had done and somehow congratulate them on their work for God. The praise of men were obviously of no consequence to them, for in keeping their actions secret, they drew no applause for their selfless acts.
In fact, they drew quite the opposite. What they gained from others was ridicule and resentment. What they gained for themselves were reputations as stingy folk, unwilling to give up even a part of what they had even to close relatives. But even as they were able to give without needing the approval of others, they were also able to bear up under the insults and continue to give even as the Lord had directed.
It is fortunate for us that our lives are not measured by the assessment of mankind regarding our accomplishments. For so much of what is seen in us by others is biased by what is desired to be seen; and even then, so much is not seen at all. But God sees all things, and as we are reminded by Jesus, “thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
But what shall we do for the praise and attention of others? And to what end? What we shall do might be anything we feel we must to gain approval; while what we shall gain shall be an appetite to continue gaining approval. But as we thirst for such approval we will find that we can never fully satisfy others, and that even if we do, we will only need to top our last performance to gain their approval in the future.
Jesus told us that if we do our works to be seen of others--to gain their approval--then we already have our reward. But if we do our acts privately so as not to seek the approval of others, then there is a reward that awaits us from God--far greater than any reward we might attain from others.
And what shall we do for the approval of God? Shall we open a door for a stranger and welcome their silence without so much as a “thank you?” Can we give expecting absolutely nothing in return? And shall we continue to give, even if all we seem to receive are the insults of others who do not understand our actions? May God help us to do just that. For in such Christ like actions are the greatest of blessings found, and they are those that continue to bless us--even into eternity.

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