To Be (Seen) or Not To Be (Seen)

From an early age we crave attention. If we do something we think is significant, we want people who are close to us to notice and lavish us with their approval and applause. Even as adults we want affirmation and approval, and in and of itself that’s not a bad thing. But when a desire for attention and attaboys becomes the main motive for our morality, that becomes a big heart problem.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents an interesting paradox. In chapter 5, he urges us to let our light shine for all to see. But not too many verses later, he has a warning that hangs over all of our acts of righteousness. Don’t do what you do just to be recognized and revered. If you do, that’s all the reward you can expect. Sometimes the difference is razor thin between being a light that all can see and ultimately praise God and turning that light into a spotlight for self-affirmation and attention from others.

This is not an invitation to constantly judge the sincerity of others, but it is a call to frequently examine your own motives. Why am doing or not doing this activity? Would I do this whether anyone notices or not? Do I find joy whether anyone notices or not? Am I bitter when I don’t get noticed, or when someone else does? Do I go out of my way to make sure others see and applaud my efforts?

Don’t seek the spotlight, but don’t shy away from being a light. Don’t seek to be seen, but don’t run from being seen. Love out loud. Live out loud. But maybe talk a little less. Post a little less. Let others notice your light instead of feeling the need to point it out. Because when they see us, our good deeds, our hope is that the one they really see is Jesus.

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