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Do Not do Deeds for Praise

 In Matthew 6:16-18 NLT, Jesus tells the crowd that has gathered for his Sermon on the Mount:

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair [or anoint your head] and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

Jesus was talking about the Pharisees who fasted twice a week and wanted others to know about their fasting and who would praise them for it. It sounds as though others were following them in acts that brought attention to the fact they were doing something "for God" when in reality they just wanted the attention for doing the act. 

This message tells us that we need to act, dress, and be the same so as to NOT draw attention to our fasting - or even our good deeds for others. So many people want to draw attention to their good deeds so they can get praise for what they have done. That's a selfish desire and wastes the deed that has been done. The value no longer exists if we do something for praise and recognition. If we do these things out of true kindness and recognition for God, we won't crave that praise and recognition. Sometimes a good deed, such as instinctively pulling someone out of the path of a car that's about to run over them has to be done regardless of who sees us. But other acts of kindness, people will never know you were behind it because it's a silent act of giving or doing, such as a charitable contribution. The charity may thank you, but the true recipients of your actions will never know the person who helped them. And God will bless you because your actions were pure and not selfish.

Deeds for Christ
image courtesy of Ahna Ziegler via Unsplash

It's fitting that today's message just happened to fall during the 40 days of lent when many Christians fast and show penitence. According to my studies, fasting during lent doesn't necessarily mean giving up every meal for a day, but we can give up something for a day. Perhaps TV or cell phones or junk food. Our penitence can be forgiving someone or giving up a grudge and not necessarily being regretful or remorseful. Lent was meant to remind us of  the 40 days and nights Christ spent in the wilderness fasting and being tempted by the devil. 

Being raised in the Baptist faith, I never celebrated lent. I honestly never knew what it was until this year. 😯After studying about it a bit this year, though, I understand why many people do celebrate lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Christ gave up so much for us, so I think, during this time, it's fitting for us to give up for a day or 2 or let go of something that may be hurting our relationship with God. Lent isn't a biblical command, but I think it's a nice gesture to our Savior. So, not celebrating lent won't send us to hell. But perhaps putting some effort into it will help us feel closer to Jesus.

May God bless you,

Patricia

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