Recognition. Praise. Compliments. Accolades. It is human nature to enjoy receiving these things. The problem is that pride is also part of our human condition. Now while pride has its good role in our lives, it can also mess up the best of intentions; blowing up our egos until (even if we don’t want to admit it) we wind up addicted to attention others pay us for our good deeds. In fact we can get so self-absorbed that our only motivation for acts of piety or charity becomes the recognition we receive for doing them.
Jesus points out this fact numerous times throughout His teachings, but particularly in the 6th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. But of course Jesus, in His infinite love for us, always gives us the solution to any problem He points out. The solution He gives is humility- a tough one for me personally to put into practice. Matthew 6 though gives us good guidelines for working humility into our lives.
One of the key elements Jesus points out is focus. If I am seeking to focus people’s attention on me, then I am not practicing humility. If I am helping someone so that I “look good” in the eyes of others or to manipulate them to do something for me, then I am like the hypocrites Jesus describes. A good barometer for me to check my motivations has been For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21) for it reminds me that if my heart is truly focused on love of God instead of love of self, then I will not need the praise or attention from others. It also helps to keep my ego in check in those situations where I do receive recognition.
In this Lenten season we pay close attention to the ultimate gift of eternal life here and now that God has given us through Jesus by His death and resurrection. I pray that we all keep that focus throughout every day of our lives, that the praise and recognition be rightfully given to Him who has so richly blessed us.
Dear Heavenly Father, we so often block others from seeing you by wanting them to see us. Please grant us the perspective of humility as an antidote to the poison of pride, so that your glory, not ours, may be brought upon earth, as it is in Heaven. Amen.