Priorities are tricky. It’s easy to slip into mindsets that upend them. Slowly they become more centered on ourselves and less on our purpose. As Jesus teaches us in this passage, we are to give and serve without seeking praise of our own. We are to humbly seek God, not striving to be noticed for our eloquent speech. We are to fast and seek His will in a way that brings glory to our Father, not ourselves. But..sometimes, we do get praised. We do receive encouragement and acknowledgement for the things we do or the ways we serve. And that’s ok and most of the time is really helpful. The tricky part comes with the posture of our own hearts. Remember Edmund in The Chronicles of Narnia? He had somewhat of a pride issue. And as the evil queen was trying to woo him into betrayal, she offered him some magical Turkish delight. Once he started eating it, he simply couldn’t stop. If our hearts aren’t focused fully on our Creator King and our purpose to serve Him, those accolades and encouraging comments can quickly become our own form of Turkish delight. We get hooked on receiving praise. We want more and more of it. We begin to feel as if we deserve some of that attention. As Edmund made himself sick on Turkish delight, we make ourselves sick on praise over time.
You see, Jesus says that we are to give, pray, and fast quietly, focused on the Father. Our true rewards will be given by Him. When we start relying on the praise of others and acknowledgement for our good works, we are no longer satisfied with the gifts of the Father. We start noticing what we don’t have and wanting more of what we do. Our thoughts become centered fully on ourselves leading only to disaster and most of the time greed and anxiety. Later in this chapter, Jesus reminds us of the importance of not seeking earthly treasures and the importance of relying on the provisions of our Father. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. We don’t need to rush around relying on our own skills and success or worrying about what will happen tomorrow. We simply need to steward those gifts and skills for His glory and rest in the assurance of His faithfulness.