Jesus longest recorded teaching is called the Sermon on the Mount. There he teaches his followers how to live the life God desires for them. The material is found in the Gospel according to Matthew chapters five, six and seven.
Within this body of teaching Jesus addresses a topic that is as applicable today as it was in his time. Matthew chapter six starts with Jesus saying, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Jesus is very clear in his words; you probably do not need a commentary or preacher to explain them. He warns his followers not to make their life a public spectacle of our own righteous behavior. In fact, showy goodness has no reward from God. Sure, it might impress friends and convince people of your genuine kindness, but it will not have any impact on eternity.
To drive the point home, Jesus gives us three examples of this type of behavior. First, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.” (Matthew 6:2) Second, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:5) Finally, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.” (Matthew 6:16)
Each one of these examples that Jesus addresses are not hypothetical. The so-called religious people of his day practiced these regularly as s sign of their devotion to God. In every case Jesus reminds us that God is not getting the glory, rather the person doing the action is getting the praise.
I go to these words again and again in 2018. I believe social media is the new street corner. This is the place where people announce their good deeds with trumpet blasts to be seen by them. Let me ask you a couple of questions. What would happen if the next time you went to do some good deed you put your cell phone away? What would happen if you did not post any pictures on social media of your children’s selfless behavior? What would the result be if no one ever knew about anything you did for God? Jesus answers all those questions by saying “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
I know you are proud of the good deeds that you or someone you love is doing. I know you want to let your family and friends see the things they are missing. I know you want to post it on social media as a place to receive a pat on the back. Go ahead and post it, just know that the reward you receive in the form of praise will not be from God.