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Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:1-4

1. “Command what you will...” -Augustine God does not value or judge me based one how much people love me.

God smiles at the expression of worship from the heart…so when you serve other people, don’t do it for the fickle smiles of people but for the everlasting smile of God. -Pastor Mike

That statement, if really understood, defines the second most life changing reality in the world. It cuts counter to a culture that lives and breathes on the praise of other people. You and I, in our natural hearts, cannot help but crave after people’s praise.

  • It makes us high, endorphins surging, causing us to believe, “Now I’ve made it! How could my life get better?”
  • We get anxiety about getting or not getting praise. We grind our teeth at night. We mope about when we feel others think of us badly. If unchecked, we might just think ending it all is better than living without it.

Outward praise is not where God looks. He judges the secret things in my heart that most people never see (Romans 2:16). He wants my heart. He commands it. He must have it for me to be His. He wants my heart, not the curated game that others see. He wants my heart, not my good deeds balanced on the scale comparing me with other people. He wants my heart, not the offering of praise that others give me.

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. -Joel 2:12-13

2. “Grant what you command.” -Augustine What then, if really understood, is the first most life-changing, eye-opening, otherworldly statement in all reality? It is intimately connected to the second. It is that…

...when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. -Galatians 4:4-5

And that…

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? - Romans 8:32

So, in an upheaval of everything I have always known, valued, indeed loved, there is one simple call.

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. - Acts 16:31

In Christ, I am saved by the selfless sacrifice of another, earning the eternal smile of God. Am I embracing this right now?