Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Myth of Anonymity

Teaching at the Rescue Mission yesterday regarding each believer in Christ finding the function that God has gifted and purposed them for in the body of Christ, and then living that out. Of of the guys mentioned that he sees people who have the gift of giving, as they contribute to the mission in many ways, and very often anonymously, not wishing to gain any recognition for their service or giving. But only desiring that any and all glory be to God.

As I thought about this observation, Jesus' words in Matthew 6:1-4 came to mind. Lon was expressing just what Christ taught here in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

Jesus here commends anonymity before men for righteous deeds, so as not to be a hypocrite and seek commendation from men. In fact, He says if you receive honor from men for your good works, don't expect any reward from God, you've already had what you're going to get. But He also points out that the idea of doing any righteous work anonymously is a fallacy. While we may seek to do our deeds out of the sight of men, it's impossible to do them out of the sight of God. God is the One who "sees what is done in secret" and rewards faithfulness based on what he sees. So while we may seek to do good works anonymously, so as not to gain any honor or recognition from men, we do not, in fact cannot, do them anonymously before God. He sees every act of righteous obedience to Christ that we do, visible to men or not, and will reward His people for those acts with the words, "Well done, good and faithful slave." What a great motivation for seeking our recognition from Him then, not from others now.

But the corollary to this is that there are no anonymous sins, no unseen acts of disobedience to Christ. Just as God sees in secret our acts of obedience to His, He also sees in secret our acts of sin against Him. There's no such thing as a secret sin, when you factor God into the equation. Every thought, emotion, willful bent or act, even if never known of by another human being, is known by God. And this destroys the false idea of the victimless sin, since all sin is an affront against God, making Him the ultimate victim, the offended party. And God, who sees in secret, will righteously deal with our sin openly. What a frightening thought for those who would seek to hide their sin and think they're OK. The words of God in Numbers 32:23 were never truer: "...and be sure your sin will find you out."

But for the person who's placed their faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross, what an amazing thought, that God has already dealt righteously and openly with our sin, both the obvious and the secret. He place those sins, and all others for all who will trust in Him, past, present and future, on Jesus at the cross and forever settled the issue. And in place of our sin, He credits to us who believe the perfect righteousness of Christ, a position of right standing before Him for eternity. So that even when we continue to try to keep secret anonymous sin in our hearts and minds, God knows them, will lovingly discipline us to bring us to repentance from them, and continues to apply His gracious forgiveness to us in Christ.

Amazing grace, indeed.

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