keeping a secret between you and God alone

Jesus talked about keeping one’s good works and sacrifice between one’s self and God, not letting others know, as if for show (see Matthew 6). For me, engaging in liturgy, especially liturgical services such as Ash Wednesday is relatively new. Father Michael Cupp at our Ash Wednesday service this past week pointed something out which hit home to me, a new thought in its context. Simply put, that we should not be concerned, but even happy if the ashes into the form of the cross on our foreheads is covered by our hair, though in Michael and my own case, we have no (or not enough) hair to cover it. The point was that even over something I might be enthusiastic about, which I like to share, it is good to keep between myself and God as far as my actual practice of it is concerned. Of course I can share with others in answer to their questions, or even beyond that if I think I’m led to do so. But it is on the safe side to work on keeping acts of righteousness hidden, between us and God, lest we fall into the sin of wanting to be seen by others as good and righteous, the old way of putting it, pious.

What we do and don’t do does end up mattering much more than we could imagine. We may think something bad we’re doing in secret is okay, but God sees it, and it does impact us and through that, others, in ways we little realize, or in fact don’t understand at all. In the same way the good we do before God as those in grace devoted to him will end up being part of God’s good work in the world. Whereas when we do it with ulterior motives, to be noted by others, then that reward is all we have, and if God uses it, it will be inspite of that.

And so, just as we know that all we do has meaning only in reference to God, but out from that, for everything, we go on in our Lord Jesus. As we look forward to the day when everything will be done out of sheer joy and love with no danger of empty show.

prayer for Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer