God will reward good works done out of right motives with eternal rewards which are indescribable. These rewards make earthly riches look like garbage in comparison. However, God warns that He will not reward all good works:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Matthew 6:1-2)

Hypocrisy is defined as pretending you're something you're not. Jesus adds to this definition by describing hypocrisy as doing your righteous deeds to be seen by men. Some people give to the poor or to Christian work in order to help people and to serve God. They will receive eternal reward. But others give in order to be seen by men. They want others to be impressed with them, and generosity makes them look good. When good works are done to be seen by man, Jesus says, "You have your reward." You've impressed men. Congratulations!"

Some fundraisers appeal to this wrong motive. They try to motivate potential donors by promising to trumpet the person's generosity. "If you give $1OOO, we'll put your name in the brochure, and if you give $1,OOO,OOO, we'll put your name on the new building. Then everyone will know how generous you are!"

It is not wrong to publicly acknowledge the generosity of donors. However, it is wrong to appeal to a person's desire to look good rather than to his desire to benefit people and to serve God. Another way to capitalize on the "fear of man" is to publicly embarrass those who don't give or who don't give enough. Such uses of the fear of man can be extremely effective if you measure effectiveness by the amount of money raised. However, if you measure effectiveness by whether or not God is pleased, a different strategy must be adopted.

The key is the motive behind the good deed. Being seen by men does not cause the forfeiture of eternal reward. Eternal reward is lost when a person does good works in order to be seen by men.

Jesus portrays the praise of men as a goal not worth seeking. The praise of God is another story.

Turn away from man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)


Jamie Lash                     

(assisted by Brent Wallace)






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