“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
One of the most common traps that we can fall into is practicing righteousness just to be seen. It’s such a powerful tool that Satan uses to tempt us; it takes a good action and turns it into sin for the one doing it.
I say it is a trap because it’s deceiving. It’s so easy to tell ourselves that we’re doing something good, we’re trying to be a good person, there’s no harm in that. While it is true that there’s no harm in trying to do a good deed, there is harm in trying to do it for vain purposes. If you’re giving to the poor, that’s good. But if you’re giving to the poor with the intent of being praised for your generosity, then you actually haven’t done anything generous at all, you’ve acted selfishly by purchasing praise for yourself.
You see the whole point behind a good deed is loving your neighbor, doing what Jesus would do. We do those things because we want to be more like our loving savior, Jesus. We want to walk as he walked. We want to live like he did. We want these things because we know that they are good and just, that they uplift the people around us, that they bring hope and joy to others, that they may spread the good news of Jesus. When pride gets mixed in, all of that is taken away. The reward is supposed to be simply the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done good work for the kingdom of God, that one day you will meet him in Heaven and he will say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” That’s the reward that works of righteousness lead to. But when we seek our reward on earth instead, Jesus says that’s the only reward we’ll be getting. If what you want is earthly praise rather than a heavenly reward, then that’s what you’ll receive.
Don’t be fooled. No earthly glory could compare to that which we will receive for our works of faithfulness in Heaven. Don’t be tempted to take the immediate pleasure of recognition or praise, be patient and know that your good deeds are building up the kingdom of God, and if that isn’t enough, know that there is a much greater reward for you in Heaven.
There is no good work that can earn my salvation. I can never work my way to being good enough or perfect enough to spend eternity with you, it is only by your grace through Jesus that I am saved. Let me not be so prideful as to think that my good works are anything to boast on, only the work of Jesus. Let me not fall into the trap of pride and earthly praise. Help me to keep my eyes on you always.
In Jesus’ Name,