But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Jesus mentions three things to be done in secret—giving alms, praying, and fasting. We don’t do these things to praise ourselves or to receive the praise of men, but to honor God. He sees and knows all that we’ve done and why we’ve done it. So can’t it just be something between us and God, something only we share? Can’t those aspects of our relationship with Him be private and personal and not for other people’s eyes? Can it be not about appearing so spiritual and righteous on the outside, but actually having a close and intimate relationship with our Lord? Can’t it be that we just delight to do good as He does, to honor Him in all things, and to do it for no other reason?
Our relationship with God is not about those external religious acts. It’s not about looking spiritual to other people. It’s about a personal relationship, a child with his Father, those moments together, that fellowship and communion, something that is only us and God. Cultivating that kind of relationship is what allows us to pray the kind of prayer Jesus models in this chapter. It allows us to know Him better through prayer and fasting and serving Him by giving alms.
The external focus robs us of knowing God in this personal and intimate way. When it is about us instead of Him, it doesn’t work. When it is for show, it means nothing. When we’re seeking praise for ourselves, we steal God’s glory and give precedence to those outward and superficial relationships instead. And that hollow praise from other people is the only reward we will get.
So let us go about these things with the proper attitude and the proper motive. Let’s place a high value on our relationship with the Lord. Let us continually seek these opportunities not to make ourselves appear spiritual or to go through the motions of some spiritual exercise, but to honestly and truly seek God with our whole hearts. May God Himself be the reward that we seek in all we do, and may we be satisfied with a strong and meaningful relationship with Him.