Jesus taught his disciples to do both:
- To go public with the good that they did.
- To keep their good actions as a secret between themselves and God.
How are we supposed to sort that out?
In the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount he first taught his disciples that to push back the darkness they needed to let others see the good that they did (Matt 5:14-16). His encouragement to “let the light shine” seem to echo the voice of creation that said, “Let there be light.” (Gen 1:3).
In the same teaching moment, however, Jesus went on to urge his followers to keep faith-based secrets with God.
- Charitable gifts. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (Matt 6:1-4).
- Prayer. Do it behind closed doors, in secret. (6:5-6)
- Fasting. Don’t let others know. (6:16-18)
Each time Jesus talked about how important it is to have something between ourselves and “the Father who sees in secret.”
In context, the explanation of this “study in contrasts” is clearly a matter of motive.
But once we have figured out how to keep secrets with God (and how important that is), while letting the good we do be a light in the dark (and how important that is), how in the world do we practice the difference… ? How easy is the motive issue? Is God waiting for us to ask help with that. Or does he expect us to figure that out for ourselves?