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Secret rewards

"...your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

—Jesus (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18)


When I think of my Father seeing what is done in secret, one of my first respones is fear. I suspect I'm not alone, or even in the minority. Yet it's the secret things of Godliness that Jesus says catch my Father's eye. He encourages believers to a rich, secret life of holiness— something that goes far deeper and beyond the "random acts of kindness" touted by our Oprahfied culture.

Jesus uses this phrase in three different contexts in this chapter: giving to those in need (compassion and generosity), prayer (devotion and dependence on God), and fasting (self-denial and discipline). Many who see Him as merely a "great teacher" are comfortable with the first setting, but the latter two challenge that notion.

It takes a radical transformation for my inner, secret life to be a place where I might store up rewards rather than punishments, holiness instead of wickedness. That's God's work, yet He also invites me to join in it. Not an easy tension to resolve, perhaps because it isn't to be resolved at all, but to instead be walked in faith.

As I learn to take the tiniest steps of compassion to the world around me, God is showing me much. I'm receiving far more than I'm giving. In the last two days, I've noticed people asking for money and help, only to see someone come along side them even before I can reach them to attend to their needs. My Father, who sees what is done in secret, rewards— He also gives me a glimpse, to encourage me.

While I've been writing, I've seen a beggar be walked across the street for a cup of coffee by one man, then later be given a coat by another. I never noticed before. Thank you, Lord, for showing me.

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