"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29
I've been thinking on the idea of secrets for a few weeks now. I love it when God shares a secret with me. Often times, those secrets that he shares with me are directions for me- directions for me to do something or go somewhere or do something for someone specific. While I usually share those particular secrets with my husband, I don't share them with anyone else, and that is because they are secret, of course. Things that God would have me do to bless someone... And yet, sometimes I do feel this urge bubbling up to tell people about the things I have done. You know, when you're talking with someone and they mention about how wonderful it is to see the food pantry nicely stocked with food. On the inside, you know that you, yourself are responsible for a good portion of it, how easy and mindless would it be to say something like "well, you know, hubby got paid a little extra this week, so we thought we'd put it to good use." Yet instead, the correct response is probably just a simple agreement, and a purposed conversation that doesn't share what exactly it is you've done.
There's the tough part. I think that in this world we become so conditioned to seek out praise, that when we participate in one of the secret things of God, it's just natural for us to want to brag about it and receive some human accolades. But you know, our accolades are in heaven- as God smiles on us listening to the secret things that He places in our hearts- and those are the accolades that are important.
I was looking in the Bible for examples of secret things, and wouldn't you know, Jesus shared a few examples of things that are to be done in secret.
"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4
When you give to the needy, do it in secret. There are far too many people in this world who give to the needy publicly. It would be like me, walking down the street, holding up a check and announcing to all my neighbors that "This check is for the needy! Watch me give it to them- see how big this check is? Aren't I a good person for giving this much to those in need?" The reality is that no one needs to know how much I give to the needy except me and my husband. When we try to make an act of giving a public act, it can cheapen the giving that we are doing. And when afterwards we walk around telling people how we gave so much to this or that, we are not following the words of Jesus and giving to the needy in secret. Our giving should be between us and God and no one else needs to know about it.
Honestly? I get much better rewards from giving in secret than in public. I love smiling on the inside, knowing how I've brightened some one's day without them even knowing it was me who did it. When I give in secret I'm really acting on love. I'm acting on the love of Jesus that is flowing inside of me- and stirring that up and causing it to pour out of me rewards me so much more than praise from another person possibly could.
Jesus had more to say about secret things though- quite a few all in one chapter.
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6
We should give in secret, and we should pray in secret. Let's just think on the practical side of this. Let's say you're in a crowded room of people. Noisy people- maybe there's loud music playing. Someone comes up to you and wants to talk to you. Rather than leave the noisy room, they lean into you and they have to shout in order to be heard. They tell you some wonderful things, but you're really very distracted by this room full of loud people, and the things you hear just don't seem as wonderful because of where you are. Now think instead about this person coming to you and pulling you aside. You go to find a quiet place where you can talk and focus on each other and the things being said. The conversation is much more rewarding isn't it? God wants to talk to us one-on-one too. He's a jealous God and wants to be the sole focus of our attention. He wants us to pray to Him in secret, where we can just focus on Him and His wonderfulness, and where we aren't putting on a "prayer show" for those around us.
And then Jesus tells us to fast in secret too.
"But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:17-18
Now, I've shared things in the past while I've fasted, but more as a way to encourage other people about the principle of fasting. I make no secret about saying that I used to be very much against the idea of fasting. But when I am in a state of fasting, that's not public knowledge. The whole world around me doesn't need to know that I'm only eating vegetables for a few weeks. Now, if we go to some one's home for dinner, then they may need to know, only so that I don't offend them by passing up their luscious looking roast. But fasting is a tool to draw closer to God- and that needs to remain there- between myself and God.
In fact, all these things that Jesus talked about being secret, and being done in secret, are tools to help us draw closer to God. Now, long after the fact, the things that are done in secret may be shared as a testimony- to give glory to God and to share an example to someone else. I've shared examples of giving people money when prompted by God- not to bring glory to myself for sacrificing a few dollars- but to share that God does talk to us and can prompt our hearts to bless someone in their own times of need.
When we do something for the kingdom of God, it should be done in secret. It should not be done for the purpose of bringing ourselves glory or recognition. And if out purpose in doing something in the first place IS for the glory or recognition, perhaps we need to take a step back and do some thinking and some analyzing. And then maybe some repenting. For all things happen for the glory of God- not the glory of man. Those who humble themselves shall be lifted up into higher places- higher places in the spirit- and higher places with Him.