by Ajay Chakravarthy (based on RLCF Bible Study on Wednesday, November 30, 2016)
But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men…. Matthew 23:5a
Among the different topics that Jesus spoke of on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt chapters 5 to 7), Jesus spent considerable time to speak on the desire to be noticed by men (half of chapter 6). We understand when Jesus devotes time to speaking about adultery and anger, but when He extensively exhorts us on the desire to be noticed of men it shows, we should take caution that we don’t neglect this warning. Jesus starts off with ‘Beware’ in Matthew 6:1 to reiterate His emphasis on the dangers of seeking to be noticed of men.
It goes on to say that the reason we seek to do things for men to notice is so that we want to receive the honor of men (Matt.6:2). We see that Jesus never desired the honor of man but that which comes from His Father alone (John 5:44, John 8:49).
Why do we seek the honor of men?
- There seems to be a connection with a lack of security in the Father’s love and Him being pleased with us that causes us to long for the approval of men. We see that Jesus was completely secure in His Father’s love (John 5:20) and that the Father was well-pleased with Him (Matt. 12:18) and He never needed to be validated by the opinion of men (John 2:23, 24).
- We do not want to be hidden like that grain of wheat that is falls into the earth, we want to have something above the surface that people can see. (John 12:24).
- Those who saw this new genuine life of God (new wine) springing up from within and didn’t want the mere outward expression grabbed a hold of it. But those who were more interested in giving an impression to men (old wine) said that old is good enough (Luke 5:39, Matt 23:26)
On the final day, we would have to had pleased only one (Heb. 4:13), God will not ask for the opinion any other person on that day.
As with all teaching, we can go to the other extreme to falsely think that we are not caring for the opinion of men when we do not want to submit to the exhortation of our elders or those in authority. Heb. 13:17 makes it clear that we need to obey our leaders because they will give an account of our souls and to make sure that they can do it with joy. Paul tells Timothy let his spiritual progress be noticed by all (1 Tim. 4:15). So we do seek to let our light shine but in such a way that it glorifies our Father in Heaven (Matt. 5:16)
Jesus spoke about the desire for our deeds to be noticed by men right after He asked us to be perfect like our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt.5:48). We can either seek to have honest and sincerity before the Lord in our true condition in seeking to be perfect or we can cover that up with activity and service in the eyes of men in order to show ourselves as perfect. May we press on to perfection (Heb. 6:1) where we increasingly don’t fear men or seek to do things for the honor of men.