The Christian and Moral and Spiritual Tensions
How we fight daily to not be seen of men
Growing up, I can recall being praised for my achievements from both my mother and my teachers. I was an ambitious student, extremely introverted, but creative and conscientious. To me, when I heard praise, it was synonymous with goodness, citizenship, and the hope of a successful future.
But when I became a believer, when I surrendered my life to Christ, I realized the opposite was more acceptable and honorable to God: meekness.
As a Christian, I’ve come to realize that humility and not drawing attention to self is a great reward.
When my creative work is published and I or the editors share it publicly, it feels as if I’m taking a step outside of my skin to put on another one. It is a performance, it seems. The pressure to share our work feels less like an invitation for others to read our work, to learn and reflect on something that they may never have thought about, and more like a contrived effort at self-promotion. The digital world mandates that we strive for recognition, influence, and adulation.
The moral concern for the Christian becomes how far and grand must their platform be, how much must we elevate ourselves, who must we associate with to be to be followed and recognized. All this at the expense of remaining genuine. How do authentic ideas or perspectives thrive with this expectation?
A tall order
The danger for us as writers, then, is building a platform which elevates our personal presence while overshadowing the message of Christ. Our message, as clear as it may be formulated, may get lost in the noise of other voices that beg to be first, who have more influence, and dare I say it, which may tickle the ears. Thus, building a platform as a Christian should require us to outline our doctrine with precision. In doing so, many readers may disagree with us, but neglecting to do so would dissolve the message of Christ in a lukewarm soup.
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:1-4)
When we want to world to note the charitable work we do and practice, it may come across as a staged performance for man and that is dangerous because it begs the question: are we here doing this charitable work for the Lord, or for man? The question we should ask ourselves is this: Why do I need to capture this Instagram moment? Is it so everyone can see how good I am?
Tough questions in the me-first culture. But one Proverb that even children learn early is this: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).
To the children, it seems easy to tell them that all their talents are gifts from God and that they are stewards of those gifts, thus, the Lord Jesus should be lifted high in all things we do. The world should see Him, and not us. Why do adults find it so hard to remain humble?
For another take on this topic, please visit my post, “In No Rush To Build a Platform of Influence.”