TO CHEW ON: " 'But all their works they do to be seen by men.' " Matthew 23:5
In his book The Call, Os Guinness tells a story about the American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and his mother. The Carnegies started out in Pittsburgh as a poor family. One day Andrew found his mother weeping in despair. Trying to console her, he said:
"Someday I'll be rich. We'll ride in a fine coach driven by four horses."
"That will do no good over here," his mother snorted, "if no one in Dunfermline (Scotland) can see us" - Os Guinness, The Call, p. 69.
Have you ever felt that way? What good is this accomplishment if __x___ (my boss, my family, my Facebook friends, my colleagues, the people in my church, my city) don't see it?
"Only madmen, geniuses, and supreme egoists do things purely for themselves. … Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, do things with an eye to the approval of some audience or other. The question is not whether we have an audience but which audience we have" - Ibid, p. 70.
Here Jesus revealed to the crowds and the disciples who the audience of the sanctimonious scribes and Pharisees was: other people ("men"). The irony of this is that they posed their religious observances as done for God. But their actions—exaggerating the religious parts of their clothing (phylacteries and borders), loving the best places at feasts, insisting they be addressed as "Rabbi" demonstrated who they were really trying to impress.
I ask myself, who is my main audience? Whose opinion do I value most? What about you? If it's Jesus, as we say it is, then we will do the things that He values. Several of them are named here:
- Humble ourselves.
I love how Guinness concludes this chapter in his book:
"Do you wish to be inner-directed rather than other-directed and truly make one Audience decisive, the Audience of One? Listen to Jesus of Nazareth; answer His call" - Ibid p. 74.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, how often I get distracted from living first and foremost for You, letting my thirst for the praise and attention of people dictate my actions. Help me to value Your opinion more than any person's so that my life will show that my audience truly is You. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.