You don’t have to be a member of the Screen Actors Guild to want to be seen. It’s inbred.
From our earliest days we shout, “Look at me, momma! Look at me!” As we get older the shouting stops, but the need to be noticed continues. We like to get the credit for the new idea, to see someone follow us on Twitter, "Like" us on Facebook, or to trace our lives on Instagram. Conversely, we can work hard to hide our mistakes from others.
There is a name for this game. It's called Image management. Let them see you smile, but don't ever let them see you sweat!
This fascination with recognition has a long history. In Jesus’ day, when piety was popular, some people staged their spirituality. Members of the religious elite went so far as to monitor giving, praying, and fasting. Consider it a religious version of 15 minutes of fame.
Jesus would have none of that. He knew that true spirituality is marked by secrecy, not showmanship.
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 NIV
Did you notice the word "seen" in the verse above? It comes from a Greek word that corresponds to our word, “theater.” The theatre is one way to live our lives -- on stage so everyone can applaude our great performance.
Jesus invites us to play a role in a different drama, one that is performed for an audience of One. On this stage it is the secret, not the seen, that counts. There are no red carpets, no paparazzi, and no People's Choice Awards. Nope! The reward is reserved for acts played out behind the curtain:
- Giving a gift and not telling anyone about it.
- Doing a good deed and working to remain anonymous.
- Immersing someone in prayer and NOT letting the person know it.
Shakespeare was right: "All the world’s a stage," but there is only one “Critic” who counts. And your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.