Scripture: “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." Matthew 6:1-4 MSG
We live in a culture where we love to show off and be seen and celebrated. If you disagree, just take a scroll through your social media feeds. It's not always a bad thing, but sometimes, I think we start to do things because we want to be seen doing them–not actually because we love doing them.
When I started to get more into photography, I was constantly asking my husband to take more photos with me and bringing my camera with me everywhere to practice. One day, we had a conversation about my motivations. He wanted to check in and make sure I was taking picture because I really love to, and not just because photos are kind of glorified right now through platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
This is the same kind of check in that's happening in scripture here.
There's this issue that comes up about the motivation behind the action and the visibility of the action. If it's all about visibility, the warning is clear: God is not impressed. But the right motivation to do good, act obediently and faithfully no matter who is watching is applauded just like how God Himself works in our lives.
Personally, I think the gospel message can get fuzzy in our culture. The cultural narrative makes the gospel feel confusing at times and a lot of the things that culture says are good can become convincing.
That's why it's so important to continually get back to God's Word and seek His heart for the world around us and for the decisions we make for our own lives.
I've been really convicted of longing to be seen. I would love for someone to call me up and congratulate me for doing all the laundry. I would jump up and down if someone said they saw how much time and effort it took me to write that blog. And when I feel like all of my effort that happens in the quiet moments when no one is looking isn't seen, sometimes, it feels wasted.
We're friends right? So I can be really honest here...I genuinely forget that "your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).
As that truth tends to slip my mind, I start to think that maybe if what I'm doing isn't seen, it doesn't matter as much.
If you've ever felt this way then you know that when we forget that God sees all of our quiet effort, in the seemingly unimportant moments, we start to feel like we aren't seen.
Maybe you feel like you need more numbers next to your name or you long for that "verified" checkmark on Instagram. Or maybe, you just wish someone was taking note of your early mornings and saying, "wow I'm so proud of you!" as you drag yourself out of bed during a trying season.
When our hearts are seeking affirmation from anything outside of God, we will never feel like we've truly received it.
The only affirmation you need comes from walking in faithful obedience as a follower of Jesus. We can be confident that God sees all of our efforts and when they are made based on the motivation of loving and glorifying Him, we can be assured He is so proud.
He sees your early mornings and late nights. He sees the unpaid work. He sees you willingly accept a personal inconvenience to serve another. He sees the compassion and generosity that no one else sees.
He isn't applauding when we try to make a name for ourselves or work out of desperation to be seen. But he is applauding when we start to look more like Him, "working behind the scenes." I love this translation and the picture it paints of God––God Himself doesn't need credit.
I often wonder how many gifts God has graciously given us that we have tried to take credit for ourselves, or maybe just brushed off as a pure coincidence. He doesn't need credit for loving us, He just does it in His generosity and kindness.
This week, in generosity and kindness that reflects the heart of God, I want us to give our everything to the mundane moments that no one else recognizes.
The moments of unseen love and sacrifice are always seen by God, and those secret moments we have with Him build intimacy in our relationship with God. As we stop focusing on being seen by others, we shift our focus to resting in the confidence that we are seen and loved by God, and are able to pay attention to glorifying God by seeing and meeting the needs of others.
-What things do you do in your normal week that you wish you got more credit for? What leaves you longing to be seen?
-Do you often think about how God sees you and celebrates/mourns with you? Why or why not?
-Write about a time in your life when you sense God was "working behind the scenes."
Did someone come to mind while reading this devo? Pray about someone in your life who does a lot of work behind the scenes. Reach out to them and say thanks, maybe even send an old fashioned thank you note letting them know that you & God see their effort!
God thank you for seeing us in the small, quiet moments when no one else is watching. Help us to be more aware of how you are loving and encouraging us through our daily lives even when we may not notice it. Help us to not work for an audience or for recognition in our faith, our careers, or our families but to joyfully look to honor and please you alone. Amen.