“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”
One of the things that the Pharisees were known for was how public they were about the good things they did. They prayed in public because they wanted others to hear the magnificence of their prayers. They gave in public because they wanted people to see how much they gave. They fasted and made it known because they wanted people to see how “spiritual” they were. The doctrine of the Pharisees was more about being seen for what they did than it was about doing right.
In the verse above, Jesus makes it clear that He is more concerned with people doing right because it is right to do than to do right because others can see what you are doing. There were several things in this chapter that Jesus said the believer should do in a private manner. Jesus said the believer should pray in private, give in private, fast privately, forgive in private, and lay up treasures in Heaven in a private manner. There are several reasons Jesus wants these things to be done in private that would help the believer to be more faithful to the LORD.
First, your heart is revealed when you do things privately. How you serve the LORD reveals the intent of your heart. If you must serve the LORD to be seen of others, you are serving the LORD so that you can receive the praise of men. However, if you serve the LORD whether or not anyone sees what you are doing, you are serving the LORD because you want to please Him. It is much better to serve the LORD because you love Him and want to please Him than it is to do right so that men will praise you.
Second, people won’t always be there to do right; therefore, if you do right to be seen of men, you will stop doing right when men won’t see what you do. One of the greatest problems with doing right because others see you is that you won’t always be around people; thus, you will stop doing right when you are alone. Many people fall into sin because the righteousness they do is done only to be seen of men which opens the door for unrighteousness when others are not watching. One of the greatest ways to fight sin in your life is to do right, even when nobody is watching.
Third, right is to be done, not because others see it, but right should be done because it is right to do. Herein is the greatest secret to doing right all the time. You shouldn’t read the Scriptures daily because others see it, but you read them because it is right to do. You don’t pray because others will hear you pray, but you pray because you need to spend time in God’s presence getting prayers answered. You don’t go soul winning because others will see you, but you should go soul winning because it is the right thing to do. You can fill in the blank about what you do for Christ, and whatever is in that blank should be done because it is the right thing to do. If you do right because it is the right thing to do and not to be seen of men, right will be your choice whether you are in private or public.
Fourth, God has the privilege of rewarding the private actions of right in a public manner. When God sees your willingness to do right in secret is when He will reward you openly. Let me encourage you to do right to please the LORD, and you will find there is always a reason to do right.