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…Who Sees You In Secret…

August 18, 2009

Come Close, Listen To The Story

My friend sent me a link to a blog post that drew me to think of a topic God continues to bring to my attention throughout my life.  My brother calls it Social Christianity.  Jesus calls it practicing your righteousness before other people and I think it is one of the biggest things a Christian can struggle with being a part of the local church.  In Matthew 6 Jesus says:

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….And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

In secret is a big deal in Matthew 6.  Jesus knew full and well that people love to be seen by others.  People are consumed with themselves (ourselves) and how they are portrayed by others.  When that poisonous pride of the flesh mixes with a Christian’s desire to do what the Lord calls him to it concocts the nasty blend of self righteousness.  The ‘I’m awesome’ mentality with a Christian flavor.

After reading J. Dodson’s post it helped me think, “Really?  Is that what we’re doing with the gospel?”  Have we become so familiar with the rhetoric and catch phrases of our religion that we spout off external knowledge instead of living out heart change – just so others think well of us?  Christ warned us of this.

He said to beware!  Don’t show off what isn’t yours to show off.  Keep it secret.  Keep it between you and God and He will reward you.  Show off how you’ve got it all together and sure, you’ll probably get the applause, the glory, the adoration of men…at least for a little while.  Until you fail.  What is in secret will be made known someday.  So beware because the Father sees in secret.

Christ did not come to earth to make much of you (me) and His purpose has never been for you to make much of you either.  He gave us the gospel to have a close, intimate and secret relationship with Him that in turn He uses to love on others, show others who He is and build up His Church.  Does that mean be secretive about being a Christian?  Well, can a light hide in a dark room?  Can it secretly pretend to be anything other than light?

Where am I tempted to show off my righteousness?  Well, the internet has become a new outlet for sure and I think that we have to be more aware of it as we find more ways interact socially:  Twitter, Facebook, Blogging (not this post, of course….ha!).  Maybe I’ll coin the phrase Social Network Christianity.  How’s that Ryan?  It is true, though, that the Social Network on the internet has stolen people’s secret time – the time they are most real and alone before the Lord.  When did we start getting so loud about our quiet time?  My brother, Ryan, writes of Social Christianity:

Are you putting forward a façade of Christian faith because it’s what’s expected?  Are you practicing a Pharisaical Christianity?  Are you dying because you feel like you can’t fail, you can’t sin, you can’t be immature even though you know you are failing, sinning, and immature?  The only cure for Social Christianity is to examine in private your motivation for faith—are you doing things to be seen by men?  Are you doing things because of [people’s] expectations?  Are you being honest with yourself and with others about your spiritual state?  Jesus knew this danger, and calls us to abandon the games, the façade, and the fake faith for true, genuine, human faith in Him.  True faith is not bound up in society but in reality.  Strip away the supports of society and the pressure which comes from peers and family and social religion will fall apart.  What is left is the genuine state of your spiritual condition.

We need to know that when we strip away the supports of society and the pressure which comes from being around the Church, friends and family – that we will find ourselves hiding in Christ’s righteousness and not some worthless attempt to prove that we are religious.  The cost is too great and having people think that ‘you’re the man’ ultimately means jack if what the Father sees doesn’t match up.  He sees us in secret.

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From → Life

10 Comments
  1. Great stuff Blake.

    One of the most challenging thoughts I had as a young person came from a teacher of mine in high school. He said, “Who you are when you’re alone…is who you are.” It’s something I’m still challenged with today, but by His grace I’ll be able to practice Christ’s righteousness even when I’m alone–especially when I’m alone.

    • blakeboys permalink

      I’ve heard that one too. Who is that from?

      • I remember something similar:

        “What a man is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.” –John Owen

        and “A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more.” –Robert Murray M’Chayne

  2. Rock on Blake. I think this is a challenge for all of us, and it leads us to have to examine OUR HEARTS. Our Motives. For example, I have several people that I follow on Twitter or have friended on facebook who are constantly putting up excellent and encouraging quotes from Christian authors, or bible verses. I do the same thing sometimes.

    So what’s wrong with that? Nothing. IF your doing it with the right motive. But everything if you’re doing it to be seen by men.

    • blakeboys permalink

      Yeah. My point (which a ton of people are addressing these days) is that with Social Networking there is another venue for us to be tempted to be man pleasers. It’s become easier to make people think I’m something I’m not on the internet more than any other place in my life.

  3. Alicia permalink

    Sometimes I think I can over think this……why am I doing this (writing scripture on fb)?….but then I think …well, God’s word is living and active and sharper than any two edge sword, maybe it is just what someone needs today…..and why, if everyone is shouting about their favorite things, can I not shout about what gets me fired up….Jesus!?

    I’m just thinking out loud and now I will have to really pray about why I am posting anything, then I read Spurgeon and he says….”publish it abroad.”

    But I know my prayer is “what you see is what you get.” But how can I really know when the flesh is deceitful? All I know is that one day that I will be sure glad to get rid of this body of sin and deceit and not have to worry about “why am I doing this?”

    Thanks Blake, I was telling Alex just yesterday how much I appreciate your humility, it is refreshing.

  4. Alicia- I just love you! Thank you for what you said. I too am one of those people, when the Lord shows me something, I can’t wait to share it simply because of the blessing He has poured out out me, I want it to be a blessing to someone else. I love reading your posts. There are days that I feel dry for the Lord, and I log on to FB and there you are with your sweet posts of God’s word and it sends me time and time again to glean what I can too that day! So you keep on postin’ sister! I love the fact that we can use a social network as an opportunity to stir one another up! I think its great!

    I am just one of those that is going to say what I’m thinking–most of the time. If I am on FB and I think about something funny- I’m going to share. If I read something online that stirs me up in some way- I’m going to share it. If I read something from Gods word that just moves my heart- I’m going to share it. But then, thats how I am one on one too! LOL!

    Sure, I think there is always a tendency in our sinful hearts to be proud about things- spiritual or otherwise. We can be prideful about serving with the kids at church- we can be prideful that we saved $5 in coupons at the store. We are prideful people…but that shouldn’t stop us from sharing what the Lord is doing in our lives!!! If that were the case then no one would write books, preach, teach, encourage! Piper said that if he analyzed every word that came out of his mouth, he would never speak again! I understand what you are saying for sure! Everything has a balance! We should be careful in life! But the Lord has put within my heart a desire to explode with excitement when He gives me a precious nugget in His word and I can’t help myself or sit still until I share. It would be more unlike me to NOT share Christ with people around me…either in person or online. It would be like I am living a double life. I hope other people continue to share. I love reading blogs and I learn so much from them. To me its as encouraging as reading a book or hearing a sermon. Especially if it is written by one of my dear sisters!

    Hope this isn’t counter active to what you were saying Blake…but I read your blog and just HAD to share my heart! :o)

  5. Blakety-Blake,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you were trying to say that we SHOULDN’T post spiritual things to fb & twitter, but that when we do, we need to be sure that we are doing it WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVE, which is why you’re summary statement is, “The cost is too great and having people think that ‘you’re the man’ ultimately means jack if what the Father sees doesn’t match up. He sees us in secret.” So the issue being discussed here is not whether you post it to facebook or not, but whether what you post to fb is integral with who you really are and not just an external “righteousness before men.”

    Just want to be sure i’m understanding the conversation here.

    • blakeboys permalink

      Sarah, don’t feel like it’s counter-active. Jason, that’s what I was saying as it pertains to FB & Twitter for sure.

      Again, my point was not to discourage anyone from sharing Scripture, posting encouragements or even mentioning our Great Savior on Social Networks. Jesus wasn’t saying, “Stop giving to the needy, don’t pray, and no more fasting,” in Matthew 6. I think we would all agree that just as God put believers in the world to be light He also put them on FB to shine. “…can a light hide in a dark room?  Can it secretly pretend to be anything other than light?” I think that’s what you’re saying as well, Sarah, when you said, “It would be more unlike me to NOT share Christ with people around me…either in person or online.”

      The purpose of the post was to share how Jesus’ words (along with others’) have pricked my heart specifically about, “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.” (Matthew 6:1). It really challenges me to seek, as Jason said, what my motives are in doing the things I do.

      I agree with Alicia (if I’m hearing her right) that we can over-think this and I tend to do that with a lot of things. But – there is definitely a reason Jesus says to beware and I ultimately think it is because Christians can be tempted to do things to be seen by men or to achieve some spiritual reputation.

      Is it wrong to have a spiritual reputation? Jesus did. Paul did. And a lot of awesome, godly men and women do. The truth is everyone has a spiritual reputation because everything in life is spiritual. Everyone either goes at life directed by the Holy Spirit or by sinful flesh….in everything: even eating and drinking. The question to ask is why do I do the things I do? Is it because I am more aware of what people think or more aware of what God thinks? Again, I think Alicia and Sarah bring up the point that we can’t stop and spend 15 minutes on every decision and action we need to make in order to make sure every motive is 100% pure. We wouldn’t have time to live!

      The point of my post was that my Father watches what I do in secret. He knows my thoughts. He knows my heart. He knows my faith. I have to be careful that I live honestly before God first – before anything else. Whether it is posting something on FB, talking to a friend, writing a blog, giving to the needy, praying, fasting – I am called to beware of practicing my righteousness before others in order to be seen by them because my Father knows what is going on.

      “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

  6. Blake- thanks so much. I totally appreciate what you are saying! Very thought-provoking. For sure we don’t want to do things just for our own glory! I am thankful that the Lord does see my own heart and knows me better than I even do! I am thankful for the desires he gives me to share either practical living or scriptures with my friends through these avenues. I love the fact that we can glean something profitable (scriptures, encouragement etc.) from something unprofitable (fb, blogs etc.)

    Thanks for the encouragement and for even posting what I was thinking about this topic!

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