“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
There is a constant competition among a certain group of men from which most people are excluded because they simply do not make enough money to come close. However, the old boys’ club is being overcome by some “Johnny come latelies” to the “Who Is the Richest Man in the World Club,” that is, determining who is richest today based on stock market vicissitudes. Namely, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Amancio Ortega, Carlos Slim Helu, et al. getting a run for their money by newcomers Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg for now. The Walmart family might have been somewhat in the running, but founder Sam Walton split his assets among all his children, so they have slid down the ladder.
These very wealthy men have differing personalities, but they share a few similarities, nonetheless; chiefly, they enjoy being seen by men. Although these men most likely downplay this truth, it is nevertheless there. Their familiarity before the world is an important part of what their vast accumulated treasures – and the acclamation of men because of it – bring them.
All of the Lord’s teaching of Matthew 6 is prefaced by this truth: You should take extraordinary measures not to perform your acts of righteousness (or display your great success) before men so as to seek their praise as one of your great rewards. Your wealth-status in life is not from your own hand but from the blessing of Almighty God. Always remember this fact of life and give God the glory due alone to Him! Do not seek to accumulate glory to yourself as though God has done nothing for you and you alone have accomplished all this by your extraordinary skills, which you consider far exceed most others.
The great moral lesson of Matthew 6 extends from the truth that we ought not be focused in our hearts on the adulation of men by what we accumulate or what we do to draw such personal glory and popularity from others. We ought to be of first order seeking the approval and affirmation of God and not determining our course in life upon whether or not it is popular with men. God’s affirmation of your righteousness is on a different plane than the judgment of men and counts eternally, not temporarily. As the Apostle Paul says, our own accumulations of notoriety are as filthy rags in comparison to the rewards and affirmation of God.
None of us compete with the richest men in the world, and I doubt any of them will read this, but what blessings we do have are from our gracious God and not from our own hands. By seeking our primary treasure in accumulated things destined for destruction, we show what our hearts treasure more than God. The monied treasures of our hearts are the things that ultimately perish, rather than the rewards of obedience to the commands and instruction of God and His Son.
God may well bless you with wealth, or maybe a modest income, or possibly a thread bare existence, but whatever your status is, your heart’s treasure should be the seeking of His kingdom above all. In doing this, all needful things of this world will be added into your life. In a very real sense, you will truly be the richest man or woman in the world; for having His hand upon you to do you good moves you into this realm, which eternity will certainly bear out.
“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine; He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills, the sun and stars that shine. Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell; He is my Father so they’re mine as well. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; I know that He will care for me.”
(1st verse of John W. Peterson’s hymn, “He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills,” 1948)
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