Home > Humility, Serving in Secret > Serving Secretly in Plain Sight

Serving Secretly in Plain Sight


Matthew 6:1-18

Hiding in Plain Sight

A distinguished minister and two elders from his congregation attended an out-of-town meeting that did not finish until rather late. They decided to have something to eat before going home, but unfortunately, the only spot open was a seedy bar-and-grill with a questionable reputation.

After being served, one of the elders asked the minister to say grace. “I’d rather not,” the clergyman said. “I don’t want him to know I’m here.”

Hiding in plain sight.  That’s the spot the minister in the joke was in.  Haha.  And I know that most all of us have been in the same exact position he thought he was in.  We all know what the trouble with the argument is.  God’s all seeing.  But the focus for this weekend isn’t about doing wrong things in secret thinking no one will see.  It’s a little bit of the opposite.

Jesus had a particular battle he was thrust into while in ministry for three years.  There were a group of religious leaders that loved the spotlight.  Many of the Sadducees and Pharisees loved to be the center of attention.  They were the rulers.  They carried the big books.  They were able to hand down consequences if rules from the books were not followed.  They had power.  They had followers.

Reminds me of something we’re all beginning to see on TV and hear on the radio.  We’re on our way to the 2012 elections.  It’s campaign season.  We will hear a lot about what people have done, the money they have, the power they wish to gain…or already have taken, and the influence they want.  Character will be talked about, but it will not be center stage.  Reason is, character is all about who people are when no one is watching or when no one cares.  We will hear people talk about values and morals and ‘religion’ and such.  Many of these people will become known as someone who wants to be seen and heard.

Jesus has an opposing view.  He saw people of that day either following wannabe leaders, wanting to be those guys, or cowering in fear around those guys.  Not good.  Not the way of the Kingdom.  Jesus spoke up about this in Matthew 6 when he basically said, “Don’t be like those guys.”  ‘Those guys’ were not happy with the way they were called out.

Jesus said to do your good deeds in secret.  Serve quietly.  Love your neighbor and don’t announce it in the local paper.  Help the local needy without fanfare.  Give without expectation of being given anything in return from those around you.  Give because you love to give.

What Jesus was pointing out was what is at the heart of the matter…the heart.  The religious leaders would fast on the street corners…loudly…drawing attention to themselves.  Purpose?  So people would give them praise.  This is not pure giving or pure sacrifice according to Jesus.  In fact, He said that they have received their reward in full…the praise of men.  They’re power came from what man gave them.

It’s completely a motive thing with Jesus.  The question for us is simply this.  Why do we serve?  Do we serve and love and sacrifice so other people will give us ‘pats on the back?’  Do we serve and love and sacrifice so people will consider us ‘good’ people?  Do we serve and love and sacrifice so that we will be lifted up as ‘approved’ or ‘worthy?’  Yes.  Many times we do that.  Our motives were not in line with how God unconditionally loves people. You see, unconditionally loving other people goes two ways.  We can unconditionally love someone…someone who hasn’t been nice to us, or who doesn’t do anything to help themselves, or who doesn’t appreciate our attention.  But we also love unconditionally because we aren’t receiving anything in return…from them or those that see or hear about us.  Jesus wants us to love without the condition that we hear clapping hands, receive gifts or gain fame from people around us.  Jesus wants us to love because God loves.  That’s it.

Our light will shine brightest to the ones we serve.  Those we serve will see God when we serve as Jesus taught.  We do not let our light shine for ourselves.  We shine our light so that others will be able to ‘see’ in the darkness that surrounds them.  The ‘light’ Jesus was talking was not self light.  It is the light shining through us … God’s light.

I love the story about how George Washington became a leader in  the army and as president.  He was called.  He didn’t go out of his way to campaign for the positions.  He was asked.  He was sought out.  People knew his character before he even had the chance to explain it publicly to anyone.  He served and moved with wisdom not because he wanted people to see him…but because it was just the right thing to do.  Paraphrasing, his response when asked to be president went something like this, “This is not something I want or something I’ve searched after, but if you think I’m the man, I’m ready to serve.”

One word.  We hide in plain sight because of humility.  Without humility, we are lifted up.  With humility, the light of God is shown brightly.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed Barnes

Questions that can lead to change if you let them:

  • Does your personality lead you more to being center of attention or a background person?
  • Jesus created us with our specific personalities.  Why do you think some of us struggle more with wanting to be heard and seen?
  • Is it possible to be a leader and be humble?  Examples that you know of?
  • What should our response be when we do receive the praise of men?…when our actions and behaviors and service is noticed by men on a public platform?
  • Who has served you in secret?
  • What are you going to do this week in secret? Plan it out.  We can talk about this…but if we’re not proactive about the planning…well…it might not ever happen.  We will have only had a good talk.
  • Why is this approach important as we are living in the Kingdom of God?
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  1. May 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    amen..well written.

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