The peril of corrupt, unrighteous motivation for doing good works is persistent. If you want to be righteous in God’s sight, you will have to be ever vigilant in guarding against the temptation of doing your good works to be seen by others.
In Matthew 6:2-4 Jesus gives practical and specific counsel on how to successfully resist the temptation of self-righteousness. He states, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
- Choose anonymity whenever it is possible. Your focus in doing good is to be on God’s glorification by your good works (Matthew 5:16). Doing good ought to be viewed as God’s “photo op”, not your “fifteen minutes of fame”. Therefore, the fewer who know of your good deeds the better. Prefer anonymity, not publicity, whenever possible.
- Don’t be a scorekeeper. Jesus’ references to “your left hand” and “your right hand” in verse 3 brings to mind an accountant’s ledger. Doing good ought to be seen as the greatest way to lay up incorruptible treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), not build an earthly “hedge fund” in case you need to call in a favor during an emergency later in life (cf. Luke 16:1-7).
- Trust God’s omniscience and justice. God sees and knows every charitable deed done in secret, and He “is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). Believe it and live accordingly.