Matthew 6:1-2 (NKJV)
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 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.
So much of modern Christianity seems to be about what happens in the sight of others (especially worship leading and preaching). It seems that a lot of people want to just do Christianity that is with others and seen by others; everything about their Christian experience is ‘above the waves’. Yet I believe the Bible encourages us to build something stronger and deeper than this. Like the man who built his house upon the rock, we are to build a walk with God and an outworking of our Christianity that has great depth. By this I mean a whole lot happening under the waterline of our life, where man does not see but God does.
It’s when we take time to develop what we have with God ‘under the waves’ of what others can see or hear that we build a faith walk that is strong and unmovable, so when an enemy ship or random life attack comes against us we do not sink or float off, rather we cause that which came against us to sink while we remain strong and unshaken.
[The above text] touches this concept when it talks about how we are to give: it instructs us to have an ‘under the water, unseen by man’ reality to how we give. When we know in our hearts that man may not ever know what we have done and we may never get their applause, but God does see and know, we can know we will get His reward; and don’t tell me for a minute that His reward won’t be far superior than that which man gives.
Matthew 6:5-6 (NKJV)
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
…God is interested in building the parts of you that are not seen by others, things like your character and integrity, because He knows as you daily grow in who you are, in the unseen, who you are ‘above the waves’ will naturally grow and strengthen too.
In the next part of Jesus’ teaching He looks at prayer, and the whole thought of ‘iceberg or ice cube’ continues to be very relevant. When it comes to prayer, is there a part of your prayer life that is never heard or witnessed by others, reserved just for the audience of One? With so much of today’s performance-driven Christianity we have become great at praying eloquent prayers when others are around, but God is interested in what is happening when it is just you and Him.
[The above text] instructs us concerning our personal prayer walk with God – that we are to all have a prayer place that we go to where no other person can hear what we are saying or see what we are doing. Like the ‘below the waters’ part of an iceberg, this place of personal prayer should be the largest part of what we have going on in the area of our prayer and communication with God. If it isn’t we can easily become ‘professional prayers’ who pray to be heard and given applause and appreciation by man. The problem is that those who pray to be heard by others have received all of the reward they are going to get. Those, however, who pray not to be heard by man are told that God Himself gives the reward for what they have done that no one else saw.
I hope this encourages you today to grow a prayer life ‘beneath the waves’ of what man observes, to have a secret place where it comes to communicating with God, to build a depth in prayer knowing that where there is depth “deep can call out to deep” (Psalm 47:2), and Father God wants to talk to you deeply.
Matthew 6:16-18 (NKJV)
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
…Here Jesus uses the same principle but this time picks on the subject of fasting. He says when we fast, we are to do it in such a way as to not let others know. Don’t do it in an ‘above the waves’ fashion, rather do it in such a way that none watching you would even know.
I am sure like me you have met people who are fasting and they just can’t help themselves, they just have to let you know. They whisper quietly, “I am fasting, don’t tell anyone”, or they actually don’t need to say anything, the facial expressions say it all! The reality is, the minute they let you know they should probably give up because the power of fasting, according to today’s text, is in others not knowing. Don’t get me wrong, when others find out that’s fine; its when you do it for others to know you are doing it that you have problems, and all you are doing is just starving yourself.
Jesus teaches us to wash our face, put the make up on, put gel in our hair, and walk around in such a way that only God, who sees what happens under the waterline of your life, can see what you are doing and why you are doing it. When fasting is done to be seen by the audience of only One – like giving and prayer – He then takes the responsibility to reward you openly. The person who fasts to been seen by others better enjoy the applause they get, because that’s all they’re getting.
Let me challenge you to continue to grow the part of you that is ‘beneath the waterline of your life’, knowing that this is the part He rewards and this is the part that makes you strong and unsinkable. Let me say again, when shallow Christians who have no depth have a collision with life’s various problems and situations they simply float away. But people with depth don’t float away, they remain standing strong, weathering every storm that comes along. Grow and invest in the person you are beneath the waves!