Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them. 

Image is everything. At least that’s what a famous camera advertisement proclaimed decades ago. The camera would give you a perfect image—sharp focus, flawless contrast, and saturated color. But our modern experience, especially from social media, tells us that there’s usually a lot more going on that an image can’t capture.

For God, image isn’t everything. What matters to him goes far deeper than appearances. That’s why, in today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples in three different ways “not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them” (Matthew 6:1; see 6:2, 5, and 16). The examples of “righteous deeds” that Jesus talks about—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—might have you feeling as if it should be Lent. But his point spans all liturgical seasons and all types of sacrifices you might offer to the Lord: do it without fanfare, and your Father, who sees in secret, will “repay” you (6:4, 6, 18).

Of course, it can be gratifying to be noticed and even praised for doing something good. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The danger lies in allowing recognition from other people to become the main motivation for our actions. Because it’s not the approval of other people that we should be looking for when we’re doing something for God. It’s the joy and satisfaction that come from becoming an instrument of his blessing.

Our Father in heaven sees the sacrifices we make “in secret” (Matthew 6:6). He is the audience that matters; he is the One we are trying to please. And as we cultivate the habit of performing good deeds for his eyes alone, we will find that he “repays” us with a deepening love for him and for the people we serve.

Our growth in holiness has little to do with flashy appearances or impressive demonstrations of devotion. It consists in offering our hearts without fanfare to God, who sees and treasures not an external image, but what lies within.

“Heavenly Father, I want all of my actions to be for you and pleasing to you.”

2 Kings 2:1, 6-14
Psalm 31:20-21, 24
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18


Subscribe To Father Maurice's Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, inspirational blogs, and updates from Father Maurice

You have Successfully Subscribed!