by Danielle Macaulay
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant yourselves. Philippians 2:3 ESV
Our family enjoys listening to clean comedy while we are traveling. One comedian we heard recently talked about having a newborn baby in the house. He joked that he would definitely wake up at 3 am…to tell his wife to go feed the baby; then he’d roll back over. Once the laughs subsided, he assured the crowd that he did indeed get up with the baby on occasion so his wife could catch up on her sleep. He won the audience over by sharing how he would rock the baby and tell her how beautiful and loved she and her mother were. He also told her that she had the best mother in the whole wide world, so that the baby would feel secure—and because he knew the baby monitor was on.
We all chuckled, but it made me think about some good deeds people were doing in our city at the time that seemed a little “band-wagon-y” to me. I said to my husband: “And that is why everyone is doing what they are doing, because ‘the baby monitor is on.’” In other words, performing when everyone is watching and listening.
My suspicion could have been right. People may have been looking for attention and accolades. But shame on me. It wasn’t my place to judge—or even pay attention to what others were doing and why. I am only responsible for myself, my own motives and resulting actions. Only God can see the heart.
So, let’s talk about monitors and motives.
Chapters 5-7 of Matthew contain some of the most profound words ever written. They record the teachings and instructions Jesus so creatively and compassionately gifted to his listeners. Today, we are some of those people. In chapter 6, about halfway through his message, Jesus tackles the topic of our deeds. He tells us our that good deeds should be done in secret. The Message version makes his warning very clear:
Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theatre, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that is all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. Matthew 6:1-4
When I hear Jesus’ words to me, I’m convicted. I’m no longer thinking about “band-wagon-ers,” but my own wayward heart and misguided thinking. We all have reason to.
Another version of this passage begins with the word “beware.” When it comes to our hearts and motives, Jesus means business. He can see past our fancy facades and directly to our motivating force. He is also serious about our judgments of others.
Only a few breaths after warning us to be careful with our own motives, Jesus alerts us to be careful regarding our opinions on others’ motives as well. In Matthew 7:1 – 2, he assures us that when we judge others, we will be judged to the same extent.
So, whether the “baby monitor” is on or not, let us love well—and believe that others are doing the same.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Danielle Macaulay is an author, podcaster (marriedup.net), speaker and television personality on the marriage television show “A Better Us” (abetterus.tv). She is passionate about her husband, recording artist Dan Macaulay (danmacaulay.com), her two boys, Keaton and Braden, and about helping women grow in their faith. She isn’t afraid to admit she’s also passionate about donuts, Hallmark movies and the spa. Danielle has written three family meal time devotionals and a women’s book and Bible Study. They, along with much of her
inspirational writing and yummy recipes can be found at frommilktomeat.com
Join the conversation: How have you kept a good deed anonymous?