Here are five great things you can do when no one but God is watching.
Amazing, I once heard someone rebuke a fellow Christian who had given some money to ministry for the poor. He thought, “They’ve made their own bed, and some choose to do it, so why help them?!” The answer is not hard to find. Jesus said the poor we will always have with us (Matt 26:11), and we do, but He didn’t mean we should turn our backs on them. Jesus also never marked a difference between giving to poor Christians and giving to the poor, including the unsaved. The poor Pharisees just didn’t get it. They were stuck on ritualistic religion, like the washing of the hands, (which for them, meant up to the elbows), so Jesus boils religion down to one thing for them, “But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you” (Luke 11:41). He didn’t say that’s all there is to salvation, but you had to be rich to be a Pharisee, and the Pharisees had no liking of the poor. The blamed their poverty on their sins (which of course, is untrue [Matt 26:11]), so Jesus said they “neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” (Luke 11:42b).
Do it in Secret
Here’s why you want to give when no one’s looking, except for God that is. Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 6:1), and “when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:2-4). If you give to be seen of others, you already have your reward. That’s it and there will be nothing further, so why not store up those rewards done in secret to be revealed someday in the kingdom? What did Jesus mean by saying “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing?” I think He means don’t keep a record of your giving. Don’t remind others of what you’ve given. Just give to others in secret, and wait for your reward. Jesus said that if we don’t let our “left hand know what our right hand is doing,” it means that “your giving may be in secret.” Keeping a record and letting others know is not keeping it secret. Besides, the reward of men won’t last very long anyway, but our rewards in heaven are eternal.
Fasting and Praying
I pray in public but only in restaurants, but not to be seen by others. In fact, it makes it a bit harder to pray while others are watching, especially unsaved people. It may make them uncomfortable, but I pray silently and I don’t make it a long prayer. Neither one is necessary, but I do think it’s necessary to pray before meals. As for the religious groups in Jerusalem, they believed it was best to pray in public, before others so as to be seen by others. That’s the whole idea, however, Jesus tells us that “when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:5-6). If you’re praying so that you’ll look religious, God is not interested, but if you pray in private, where only God can hear you, then you can be your real self. It’s hard to be completely honest and open when you pray in public. I encourage those who pray before and after our services to just keep it short and simple, and don’t worry about making it sound eloquent. Just make it an honest appeal to God for whatever it is you’re praying for. In private, we can be completely honest with God and confess all our sins, even our secret ones that no one else knows about. You can pour out your heart without fear of embarrassment or fear of being judged. Jesus also said, “when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt 6:7). As for fasting, I need to fast more, but when I do, I don’t tell anyone, because Jesus said when “you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:16-18). Fasting, praying, and giving should all be done in private. To tell someone you’re fasting is to almost be bragging about it, unless you are asking for their prayers and you’re fasting for a very serious problem.
What else do you think we should do when no one is watching? Please tell us by leaving a comment. I do know we should at least help those who are less fortunate, but don’t’ blow our own horn about it, but do it in private, such as fasting and prayer. Otherwise, the rewards come today and won’t be meeting us in the kingdom.