“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for they you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1). We live in a world that desires recognition. We have awards for just about everything anyone can do, and most people strive to be “worthy” of one. Take acting as an example. There is the Emmy, the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Tony Award, the People’s Choice Award, the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences, and the lesser-known but very prestigious EGOT awards. The latter is for actors who have been Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winners. Some of these ceremonies consist of multiple categories that increase the number of awards an actor can receive. There are numerous others as well, but I think you get the picture.
They want to be seen, want to be loved, and want to be recognized for their achievements, but often pride and arrogance are born of that desire. “Look! I did this good deed, so I need this or that recognition”, they shout. The more people who see and hear of their “remarkably heroic” actions, the better they feel about themselves. They want to walk around being showered with gifts and awards and want to be honored for their “selfless” acts. If they do not receive the recognition they think they deserve, they will become hostile and resent those who did give it to them. The desire to receive it is like a drug that will overpower their lives, and they will scream for attention. They will do almost anything to be in line for the next “fix.” These trophy hunters are so inwardly focused that they don’t understand the fleeting nature of their desires. They don’t realize that it does not fill the void their pride seeks to fill, and it won’t last long because humans are fickle.
They recognize your achievements today and may even idolize them, but soon someone younger or more capable comes along, and they are discarded for the “next big thing.” It is no different for some Christians. Some will shout about what they have done from the rooftops to receive the accolades they think they deserve from man. The smallest act is expected to be rewarded with the largest prize of recognition. But that is not what we are told to do. Matt. 6:2-4 reads, “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.” There is nothing wrong with receiving recognition for what you have done, but when it becomes the motivation for doing something, it can lead to egocentric, selfish behavior and foster an attitude of pride and arrogance.
What reward of lasting value can man give you? Even if you are inducted into a “Hall of Fame,” you will still receive nothing beyond this earthly realm for your achievements. Here is the key – be humble in everything you do. Do it without the need to be “awarded” for your actions, and your heavenly Father will indeed reward you. Don’t use a bullhorn to advertise what you have done. Let God see your efforts and reward you Himself. Human accolades are fleeting and may result in pride, but God’s recognition is eternal and results in a place in heaven.