Recently I attended a memorial service for a gifted musician whose life had touched many people. The tribute to this Christian woman included video and audio clips, photos, instrumentalists, and speakers. After everyone had left the church, I stopped to thank the technicians whose flawless work at the control board had contributed so much to this moving tribute. “No one noticed what you did,” I told them. “That’s the way we like it,” they replied.
In Matthew 6, Jesus told His disciples to give (vv.1-4), pray (vv.5-6), and fast (vv.16-18) in order to please God, not to gain praise from people. “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (v.6). Whether giving, praying, or fasting, Jesus said, “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (vv.4,6,18).
Something within us makes us want to be seen and recognized for our good deeds. While there’s nothing wrong with encouragement and appreciation, a desire for praise can undermine our service because it shifts the focus from others to ourselves. When there is no public “thank you,” we may feel slighted. But even when we serve God in secret, He sees it all.