“Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.”
~Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, 1750
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~Lao Tzu
“Give, but give until it hurts.” ~ Mother Teresa
Secrecy is out of style. Life is about being noticed. We want to be noticed for a job well done, noticed for how much weight we have lost, noticed for the social justice work we are doing. We want to be noticed for the pictures and quotes we post on FaceBook, our new car, our clean house, and the time we spend volunteering at church. The list is endless.
I have even heard it said that we are prostituting ourselves for the attention of others. That we have become whores to Facebook, blogs, and twitter and other forms of instant social networking when it comes to our desperate attempt for acceptance, acknowledgement and to be “liked”.1
In the book, The spirit of the disciplines: understanding how God changes lives, Dallas Willard say, “in the discipline of secrecy…we abstain from causing our good deeds and qualities to be known.” He goes on to write, “one of the greatest fallacies of our faith, and actually one of the greatest acts of unbelief, is the thought that our spiritual acts and virtues need to be advertised to be known….secrecy, rightly practiced enables us to place our public relations department entirely in the hands of God….we allow him to decide when our deeds will be known and when our light will be noticed.”
In other words, when we are in relationship with God instead of the world, caring about the things that God cares about, we will not be focused on the opinion of others.
If I am honest, I spend considerably more time trying to acquire the opinion and attention of friends, family, mentors, books, and online resources than I do of God. What about you?
Before you read this next passage of scripture, I have a real sense that you need to stop and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you as you read God’s word, for it is to be written on your heart. I believe that God has a special and individual message for you during this section. Don’t miss the gift!
Philippians 2:1-11 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
You will only be one to the world, but you will always be the world to the One! That is why Jesus saw you in the future and knew you would be worth dying for. Maybe you don’t believe that at this very moment, but the fact you are reading this, tells me that you are on the right path. Keep traveling on your journey with Christ, you have incredible value and He wants to continue to show you!
How does secrecy help you on this journey? Secrecy is another step on the road to freedom. It sets you free from the need for recognition from people and set’s you up for an aligned mind with Christ.
Matthew chapter 6 gives us several examples of how to align our minds with Christ in the area of secrecy.
– Give your gifts of charity in private. Matthew 6:3-4 (NLT) “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
– Pray in private. Matthew 6:6 (NLT) “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
– Fast in private. Matthew 16 (NLT) “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”
– Hide your heart. Lastly, the apostle Paul teaches us that, “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4b NIV). (This makes a great memory verse!)
After reading these verses, is your mind, heart, and spirit aligned with the world or with Jesus?
Ask yourself this last tough question: Have you been pimping yourself to the world or have you been living a life of secrecy in Christ?
If you answered the former and not the latter my dear friend, you are far from alone. You stand with the majority! Let’s join the daily and weekly practices written below and begin our journey towards a life of secrecy together!
I believe in you!
Fast your mouth from asking for compliments.
Pay for the next person in line at the drive-up coffee shop or Starbucks.
Take time away from your day to pray and don’t tell anyone.
Take a day off from FaceBook, Twitter, or other social media.
Write an anonymous note of encouragement to someone.
Examine your heart through prayer with the following questions:
Do I want credit for things that I do?
Am I easily disappointed when no one listens to my opinion or cheers me on?
Do I pout when my achievements or work is overlooked?
Do I demand a “thank you” from those closest to me?
Scriptures for meditation and reflection:
Galatians 1:10, 2:20, 6: 1-18; Matthew 6:19-20
1Beck, Martha. O, The Oprah Magazine. The Halo Effect (December 2003). Retrieved on June 29, 2011, from http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Stop-Seeking-Approval
2Willard, Dallas. The Spirit of the disciplines: understanding how God changes lives. NY, NY: HarperCollins. (1988). P. 178