One of the most difficult of Jesus’ teachings, I think: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (6:1). All of us love praise. None of us want to receive less praise and honor than the next guy or gal. Even in our most humble moments, I think, we are quite vulnerable to the danger of praise. That is, we might not be seeking recognition at all, our motive for doing something being quite pure, but then someone looks our way or advertises what we have done, and we think, “OK, I didn't seek this recognition, but it’s nice.” Oh, to seek only the notice and reward of our Father in heaven!
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father, who sees in secret will reward you” (6:2).
Our greatest reward? God himself!
Fear not! God is thy shield,
And He thy great reward;
His might has won the field:
Thy strength is in the Lord!
Fear not! ‘tis God’s own voice
That speaks to thee this word;
Lift up your head: rejoice
In Jesus Christ thy Lord. –Edward G. Taylor (1881)