The case for showing off:
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16
The case against showing off:
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4
16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair[w] and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:16 -20
Did you read these passages? If not, read them.
These passages are so close to each other in the Bible. The pages probably touch each other depending on the print size.
But they contradict.
One says “don’t show off when you do good or you won’t get rewarded in heaven” (Matthe 6:16-20). I wrote about this once before and I felt so clear on it at the time. Read it here.
I was sure that God wanted us to be secretive about our good deeds.
I had to (and still have to) practice at being secretive about good stuff. It takes usually more discipline than I have to keep my mouth shut about service.
- Because I usually enjoy service and find it intriguing so.. DUH it’s on my mind.
- Because talking about serving means I’m not talking about other things (it’s easy for me to fall into gossip or negativity) so having something positive to chat about is.. a relief.
- Because other people who I talk to might be interested in joining me.
- Because it’s straight inconvenient to not tell people sometimes.
- Friend: “What are you doing today?”
- Me: “Ohhh.. nothing AKA I’m being sneaky and not telling you (AKA I’m working at a soup kitchen)”
But the other passage says we SHOULD show off our good deeds (Matthew 5: 14-16) because it will be a good example to others.
What the? Make up your mind, God. The book of Matthew is reading like my journal in the 8th grade when my mind changed with the wind (probably faster – I don’t know how quickly the wind changes).
Most likely thoughts running through your (and my) head right now:
- “well.. it doesn’t say TELL people about it. Just SHOW people.”
- “As long it for God’s glory, not your own glory/self promotion”
- “Everything in moderation, Andrea”
Oh… I get it! So you do the good deeds and then people casually might catch you and then you’re setting an example without showing off? Yikes!
Then here’s a more practical question: Do you put it on the internet?
Before you say no, consider that I’ve gotten many good examples and moments of inspirations from fellow Christ following women by scrolling my social feeds (Thanks @DaniAustin ).
I don’t have an answer to the question..
Just bringing it up.
Interesting side note: When I was googling about these two verses, I found out that this mentality of “doing good in secret” and “not showing off” is actually characteristic of both Christian and Muslim religions.
There’s a lot of articles about the application of text about this in both the Bible and the Quran. An Arab proverb says “A good deed dies when it is spoken about”.