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Living before God
- Jacob Ninan
At one time the brothers of Jesus told Him that He should show Himself before others if He wanted to become known (Jn.7:4). They thought in the usual way: if you want to do something great and want people to recognise you, better take care to impress them. Jesus knew this was what people usually did, because He said another time how the Pharisees were doing everything 'to be seen of men' (Mt.23:5). He told His unbelieving brothers at this time (because they were not in a position to understand anything better) that His time was not yet come. But His life was not before people. Yes, He worked with people, He was seen and noticed by people, but His heart was focussed not on what they thought about Him but on pleasing the Father (Jn.6:38).
Jesus was probably exaggerating when He talked about people who blew a trumpet before they gave alms (Mt.6:2). But we are familiar with people who insist on engraving their names on the things they donate or having their names published in the donor's list. Jesus said that they got their full reward already from the people who saw them, meaning that there was no further reward waiting for them in heaven. What a tragedy if we even sit down privately and gloat over our achievements and how other people have appreciated them (Da.4:30)!
Jesus went to the extent of saying that those who valued the honour of men didn't even have a genuine faith because for them the honour that came from God was not very important (Jn.5:44). Faith is all about our trust and confidence in God and the subsequent relationship with Him. By giving priority to men's honour don't we show that we don't really know God too well and that's why we don't value Him?
How much of our life is lived before God in such a way that others don't even know about it? Decisions we make in secret to deny ourselves in order to honour God, personal sacrifices we make in order to bless the others, prayers we send up for other people that nobody knows about, money we give without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing, etc.--these are the things that prove whether we are content with pleasing God, or we want admiration and honour from people.
Jesus mentioned specifically about faithfulness with money, saying that this was one factor that decided whether God could consider us worthy to be entrusted with spiritual riches (Lk.16:10-13). Avoiding unrighteousness in the use of money is one thing, but isn't avoiding unnecessary or luxurious expenditure in order to make money available for God something He won't miss?
Not retaliating when attacked, not trying to vindicate our name before people when maligned, blessing in return when cursed, praying for those who hurt us, etc.--of course these are not to be followed blindly without wisdom--indicate to us if we are content with the honour that comes from God or if we very badly want everyone to appreciate us.
May we learn to walk before God and become perfect (Ge.17:1).