Motivation matters. Jesus's teaching shows us that just as in our day, there were people in His day that were more interested in receiving the praise of the people around them than they were about honoring God. Our worship to God is very personal, but it is not always private. With this public nature of our singing praises to God and praying to Him, comes the risk that we can be more interested in the good feelings we get from it than humbling ourselves before our God and Judge.
Jesus addressed this one way in the passage we have been discussing these last few weeks. In Matthew 6, Jesus is giving His Sermon on Mount and He warns us against the dangers of a public display. Jesus says that when we fast to be seen, that is, when our heart is not in the right place, we forgo any rest and reward God would have for us in the New Age. Instead, Jesus says, "they have received their reward in full".
Another time Jesus gives us this warning is in Luke 18. Here, Jesus tells of a man so proud in all that he had done and is doing for the Lord, all he seems to do is boast about the good work he has done. He compares himself, wrongly, to the man next to him. This was a man who was humble and conscious of his sin and his state before the Lord. Jesus explains in Luke 18:14 that it is the humble heart that receives forgiveness.
Motivation matters. It's not simply that the work of the Lord in the here and now cannot be discussed. In fact, the opposite is true. This morning, we will look at a few passages that news of the Lord working through the church is to be shared and celebrated. Let us give glory to God, "sing praise to him; tell of his wonderful acts." Psalm 105:2. An outsider might look at all the things Paul was doing for the church, but by Paul's own humble words we know that it is the Lord's doing (Acts 21:19).
So, when you have a chance in the coming week, know that when you share with a friend or a stranger some of the mighty ways God is working in your life, that when your heart is in the right place you are serving to bring others to His glory.