I was reading an article about Julia Roberts at lunch today titled “Julia Roberts Gives a Rare Glimpse of Her Growing Kids“. It made a point of saying that Julia is a private person when it comes to her family, and she rarely gives the world a glimpse into her family life. She makes a point to keep her family out of Hollywood’s harsh glower, which is admirable since it can’t be easy. Somehow she even manages to keep good name away from scandal and corruption.
Then the crazy thought of “wow, how different she is from Kim Kardashian” popped into my head. And I laughed as I started doing a mental comparison of Julia and Kim. (Let me say here that I don’t understand the celebrity or personality of Kim, and I don’t endorse her in any way, shape, or form writing about her.)
Think about how different these women are! Kim’s celebrity is a result of social media and the internet (at least in my opinion). It feels like she maintains her “celebrity” status by doing wild, crazy, and even lewd things to keep her in the public eye. She takes every available photo op. She maintains a public relationship, including her child. She is a very known presence, constantly reminding us that she is out there and we need to pay attention. The opposite of Julia.
And then God made a crazy connection between these two women. He’s funny that way. And it was so profound I am writing about it. These two women are a perfect example of what He talks about in Matthew 6:1-8, a passage about motives.
Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, and He has just discussed the Beatitudes (how to be blessed), being a good influence, His fulfillment of Moses’ Law, the dangers of anger and lust, the importance of marriage, and being a loving person. Then He segways into actions – why are you doing and how are you praying. And there are two ways to live – our way or His way.
– Verse 2 – “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
– Verse 5 – “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
This person is praying and doing works to be known, to get the recognition, acknowledgement, and respect of his community. He makes a point to be seen doing so it can be credited back to him, so people will pat him on the back, and so people may speak highly of him. He is certain he is a good and devout follower, a keeper of God’s Law – and part of who he is is being known as such.
But God cautions about being such a person, like Kim. When you make a point to be seen and known, God is not part of the equation. You have tied the hands of the great Rewarder so that you are justified and completed by men – you have limited yourself to whatever temporary blessings and acknowledgements you experience from the praises of men. In order to stay in people’s good graces, you have to keep doing, showing, being, and producing. You have to stay ahead of the curve, current on the trends, and creative in keeping yourself in the public’s eye. You may have to be shameless in your choices, which are usually outrageous and risque.
But Jesus points out there is another way to live, one that doesn’t depend on you and your abilities. He builds on His previous ideas of being a loving and good influence by making it personal – and keeping it private.
– Verses 3-4 – “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
– Verses 6-8 – “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
God’s way says be the person who does quietly, behind doors, and is usually unseen. Do to do good and to help, not to be seen. Do not be concerned with or driven by the praises of men. This person would be one who prays alone at home, just him and God. Who anonymously leaves a bag of groceries on his neighbor’s doorstep. Who quietly puts his coins in the offering plate at the temple to respect God with his money. Who hugs you tightly when you are struggling without giving you a theological lecture or beating you down with the Law. The intercessor praying for friends, neighbors, coworkers, and the world without their knowledge, because he knows God will be faithful to answer. He is a good and devout follower, a keeper of God’s Law – and he’s OK with that tidbit not being public knowledge.
Isn’t it obvious, when you think about the two actresses, which one is which? Kim Kardashian seeks the spotlight and creates opportunities for people to talk about her. It seems her confidence is in being known. Julia Roberts avoids the spotlight and keeps her personal life private. She does not drag her kids into her celebrity to display them to the world, and she tries to stay out of the headlines. It seems her confidence is in family.
Kim needs to be seen, to be talked about, to be known, to be somewhat glorified. She has the facade of celebrity to uplift her, but she is constantly having to pull stunts and sell herself to keep her in that spotlight. Julia, on the other hand, wants to enjoy her family and keeps them away from Hollywood’s vicious spotlights. She isn’t demanding people take her picture or showing off her children.
Aren’t they a great illustration of this passage? Praise God for simple (yet hilarious) illustrations from modern day.
So next time you read Matthew 6, you can think about Kim and Julia. And you can let God touch you deeply as you decide who you want to be and how you want to act.
Do you want the glory of the world or the praises of God?
Do you want God to say “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23) or “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41)?
Or do you want Him to say “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21,23)?
You can be Kim and do things your way for man’s praises, or you can be Julia and do things God’s (private) way for His blessings. But you can’t be both, as Paul makes clear in Galatians 1:10. It’s a matter of the heart. Do you want to be temporarily loved by people or eternally rewarded by God? The choice is yours.
Let your heart be pure, your motives be selfless, and your eyes be on God:
– “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).
– “As in water face reflects face, So a man’s heart reveals the man” (Proverbs 27:19).
– “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
– “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).
– “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
– “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34).
Marie Fremin, 9/1/15