Live for an audience of one

By Dave Henning / November 17, 2021

“When Jesus says we are not to parade our good deeds or accomplishments before others, but rather to live for an audience of one (Matthew 6:1-4), he is not denying our natural desire to be noticed – he is simply redirecting it.  Jesus teaches us to live for the  applause of our Father in heaven.”- Ken Shigematsu

“Watch out!  Don’t do your good deed publicly, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. . . .  Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”- Matthew 6:1, 4 (NIV)

In Chapter 11 (“Redefining Greatness”), the final chapter of Survival Guide for the Soul, Ken Shigematsu notes that previous generations found a dignity to simple, everyday existence.  Hence, a 1976 survey reported that fame ranked fifteenth out of sixteen life goals.  But today, more than fifty percent of young people list fame as a top personal goal.

Certainly, adults, at least inwardly, want others to notice them.  While this desire may reflect self-centered and vain motives, Ken concedes, it’s also part of our human condition.  Made in the image of God.

Most significantly, it’s no small victory to live for the applause of our Father in heaven.  Because our natural instinct centers on receiving the praise of people more than the praise of God.  We read in John 12:45 that the leaders “loved human praise more than the praise of God.”

Consequently, Ken explains:

“If we are living for the applause of people, we will also discover that someone else is receiving louder or longer applause.  When we compare ourselves to others, we will feel envious and miserable; comparing leads to despairing.

But if we live for the applause of our Father in heaven, who cherishes us, we will find that his affirmation nourishes us, fills s, and sustains us far longer than human acclaim.  As we live for the approval of God alone, we become full and free.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses strengthen your resolve to live for an audience of one?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “God especially values things that are hidden”

About the author

Dave Henning

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