My wife eats healthily. I don't. She loves salads with a variety of wholesome, healthy vegetables and fruit. I love cheese on toast with lots of mayonnaise. She loves nut-loaf which is a combination of seeds and nuts and lentils all mixed together, seasoned and baked in the oven. I enjoy meatloaf with lots of ketchup. She enjoys herbal tea. I enjoy strong coffee with full fat cream and brown sugar. She enjoys frozen pureed banana. I enjoy Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. My wife eats healthily. I don't.
As I think about the contrast between my wife's eating habits and my own, I'm reminded of the contrast between what Jesus teaches, about how His people today should live their lives, and what society teaches.
It's very different.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches His disciples that their motivation for doing good - specifically "giving to the needy" should be genuine and only for the eyes of their Heavenly Father in secret, and not for the eyes of their fellow man.
Our society teaches something different.
There is a program on tv right now called the Apprentice. Some of you might know it. Occasionally, my wife, Naomi and I watch it. Ok we watch every episode. Anyways, the basic idea is that there are a number of business candidates trying to win a series of business related tasks that are all part of an interview process that the boss, Sir Alan Sugar is conducting to determine who will win the £250,000 first place prize and the opportunity to start a business with him. But the thing about the show is the extent to which each candidate says and does things to try and promote themselves. I mean seems extreme. And this is probably one of the reasons why the show is so popular and entertaining. I mean they say things like, and these are direct quotes:
"I'm a great of my generation."
"I just feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way."
"I'm business perfection personified."
Maybe these quotes are slightly exaggerated by the editors to attract attention but there's no denying what's being said. It's shameless self-promotion and NOTICE ME talk. And sadly, more and more, this is what society is teaching.
So, for Bible believing Christians, the idea giving to the needy in secret or doing good of any kind for that matter - for His eyes only - is a very difficult challenge.
So what can we do?
We must, of course pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us. Help us recognize the temptation to say something or do something that might draw attention to ourselves. And the subtle strategies of our evil, deceiving hearts don't help either do they? And we need to take precautions. Maybe we need to have a kind of "motivation check" in place. It doesn't have to be complicated. Maybe just a simple question like: "Have I done every reasonable thing I can to give in secret?"
Of course we will never be able to do this perfectly in our lifetime as we battle with our desire to be promote ourselves and seek after recognition. All I can say is, thank goodness for God's grace and forgiveness through His son Jesus! But also, thank goodness that we can be free from the horrible burden of thinking we must get others people's recognition and approval for the good we do. Thank goodness that the only eyes we need to live out our Christian life in front of are the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Our Father who sees all the good we do. Even the good we do in secret.