Every few months I re-read the book of Matthew, paying specific attention to the Sermon on the Mount, and just as with all my Bible studies I like copying the Scriptures which stop and make me think into my journal.
This past week I was struck by three things Jesus tells us to do in secret (chapter 6) - He said we should GIVE in secret, PRAY in secret, and FAST in secret - each time closing that directive with these words, "And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
I'm pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit who drew my attention to this because the day before reading this portion of the sermon on the mount I had told someone about a series of 'giving' incidences from a year or two ago, gifts which up until this week only my husband, myself and the recipient knew about.
As soon as I told my friend I wished I hadn't. But there they were, the words were spoken, the 'secret' let out, and it wasn't for holy and righteous reasons because there are none and I had only achieved the tooting of my own horn..
This social media age we live and participate in challenges me on a daily basis with the perception I gain of people I know well, people who are just an acquaintance, and others I know only through my work or reputation.
I am actually shocked at what some women write on their Facebook page, the language they use, the bitterness or accusatory attitudes they feel a desire to express, even using guilt to gain sympathy. It's as though they can't see beyond their own reflection and simply want all attention to come their way. They want to tell us how great they are, and usually by tearing down others or dropping hints that they're upset with someone.
Thankfully I can move passed their posts, unfriend them and stop to read encouraging words, join in celebrations, learn something educational and see what my family have been up to with their young ones...but this passage in Matthew made me ponder what I truly show in my own life to those looking in from the outside. How do they view me?
Promoting my 'giving' the other day was all about shining a halo over mine and my husband's character, and a little bit of bitterness even seeped in because I didn't feel the recipient had honestly appreciated the gifts, so what does that truly reveal about me? No wonder the Holy Spirit didn't let that incident slide.
As a designer I find it difficult to promote my patterns, something a few designers I know also struggle with, yet this is our occupation, our 'bread and butter' income, so shining light on what we have created for our customer base is necessary. Our Lord Jesus was a carpenter and even He was paid for His work and would have needed to show his customers the quality of His workmanship.
Our public business is different from the private women we are, it's something we cannot do in secret nor avoid, but it does put us in the public eye and therefore (I believe) we are held to higher account with regards to character.
As a Christian in business for herself I feel that weight often, so my lack of humility the other day was deserving of a talking to by God and I'm more aware than ever that I need to heed Jesus and keep such things in secret 'forever', to not allow a loose tongue to rob me of the Father's reward nor draw an unwholesome stain on my character.
Why am I telling you this today?
I think God wants me to keep these Sunday blog posts real and to have enough courage that I can honestly admit some of the pits which have tripped me up in this walk to the finish line whilst also declaring His faithfulness to gently correct and forgive.
Maybe you've fallen into the same trap as me and made a show of your good deeds for others to see or hear about? Confess it to our Father, repent and be washed clean and free. He doesn't hold a grudge, when He forgives us our sin is so far removed that He doesn't remember it ever again. Cool huh?
You know what I also wondered when I studied Matthew 6?
How many of the Father's rewards have I missed in my Christian walk because I didn't keep particular actions secret?
Thank you Holy Spirit for not letting me get away with this one, for loving me so much that You want me to change for the better and receive rewards far greater than man's praise can ever offer.
Your sister in Christ,