Once a patch of ground has had all the grass and weeds removed from it, something must be planted or put there almost immediately. If it is left alone, the weeds and grass will soon return, usually thicker and higher. The same is true of our habits. If you rid yourself of a bad habit, take up a good one in its place. Do not simply leave a portion of your time and attentions unoccupied. The tempter takes advantage of this unclaimed time and will replace it with a habit or thought that may even be worse than the original. Always be sure something good takes the place of the habits you may discard. Idle, unoccupied time really is the devil’s workshop.
The praise and honor of men is quite fickle. At a moment’s notice, once ardent praise can become bitter, hate-filled words. This reward will do you no good. It is corruptible, easily devalued, and holds no eternal significance. The praise and honor of the Lord is the only worthwhile reward. The glory and praise of men can never compare. His reward is eternal and valuable. It cannot be stolen or corrupted by the things of this world. It is truly the only reward. Be not as the hypocrites, searching for the worthless praise of men, but long for the praise of God.
In this passage everyone receives a reward. Whether it be the hypocrites or the followers of Christ, they all “…have their reward”. Those that practiced inward, secret religion will be rewarded openly by their Father, who sees in secret. Those who work for the praise of men will only have empty applause as their reward. This is indicative of the end. In that case, everyone will receive a reward as well, only the rewards will be quite different. Those that follow after the Lord and have been washed in the blood of the Lamb will receive a robe of righteousness, a crown, and life everlasting. Those who chose their own broad, easy way will be cast into the lake of fire with the devil and his angels. Choose the reward of God over the recognition of men. Temporary praise can never match eternity with the Master.
In this passage, Jesus admonishes an inward, secret religion (Matt. 6: 4, 6, 18). He suggests almsgiving, prayer, and fasting all be done in private. This is a call for an internal religion focused on the condition of the heart as opposed to outward appearances (Romans 2:28-29). In contrast, he warned against doing things only to be “seen” by men (Matt. 6:5, 16, 18). Seeking the glory of men leads to a religion of white washed sepulchers, appearing beautiful on the outside but devoid of personal religion (Matt. 23:27-28). Examine your motives and be assured your religion is inward first; make the appearance of holiness secondary. It is the condition of the heart that matters most.
Further Reading – Matt. 23:25-26
Matthew 10:8 – Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
God is a fan of re-gifting. He wants us to share the gifts he has given us. The good news of the gospel and salvation’s free pardon should not be enjoyed only by the receiver. Spread the gladness of the saving power of Jesus. The goodness of the Lord should not be as a light under a bushel. Place it high in your life and watch it give light to those around you. The love of Jesus isn’t exclusive either. It should be given freely, just as freely as we receive His love.
Give the gift that was given to you. Love others in spite of what they do. And if ever you’re tempted to keep God’s love to yourself, remember the Lord is willing to share His cattle on a thousand hills and all of heaven’s dazzling wealth.