Remember in the Princess Bride when Miracle Max pumps the mostly-dead Westley’s mouth with air from the bellows and bawls at him: “Hey! Whaddya got that’s worth living for?” With the miracle man leaning on his chest, the prone Westley replies: “Tr-u-e l-o-v-e.”
If someone tried the same procedure on you today, what would your subconscious mind reveal? Jesus unveiled the true motivation of many of us when He warned his disciples not to perform spiritual heroics for the commendation of others. Instead, He instructed them to give, pray, and fast for the “Father who sees in secret”. Loving to be noticed for my spirituality is self-remunerating into a dead-end account: the admiration of others is all I’m going to get. My heavenly Father is certainly not impressed by my hollow heroics. He sees my heart.
How do we recognise and guard against this kind of hypocrisy?
1. Be aware of your self-talk when you don’t get the responses you were hoping for from others. Was their reaction the reward you were looking for?
2. How do you daydream about yourself? Do you like to picture yourself being appreciated by others for all you do for God?
3. When someone comments positively about you, do you feel gratified because you worked for it or humbled because of God’s grace poured out in your life?
4. Do you bristle inwardly (or outwardly) when someone criticises you, or do you meekly thank them and go privately to God with your questions and hurt?
5. Do you love posting your heroics on your facebook page for everyone to admire? Or do you consciously and consistently magnify the grace of God in all your social networks?
For those of you who love to be applauded, enjoy the limelight while you can. When our Father in heaven hands out the eternal rewards, you may find that your heroics don’t even get an honourable mention.