This can happen with our spiritual life as well. If we aren’t careful we may find ourselves following the Lord not out of genuine love and obedience, but to be seen by others as righteous and pious; doing things not for the glory of the Lord, but our own. Jesus calls this hypocrisy and warns that those who look for their value in the opinions of others instead of in Christ, who want to be honored and seen by the world, “have their reward in full”. (v.5)
The perfect example of humility, Jesus never once sought recognition from the world. In John 8:50 He says, “I do not seek my own glory.” The lord wasn’t impressed by religious practices. Nor did fame, power, or honor interest Him. Everything our Lord did was out of a humble spirit; to glorify and honor the Father. And for those who profess to love Him, He calls to do the same. The good deeds we do are not for bragging rights, but are acts of love and obedience to our Father in heaven. And that includes our prayers. Jesus again tells us not to try and impress the world by filling our supplications with impressive yet meaningless words, but instead gives us the most wonderful and complete prayer of all; The Lord’s Prayer.
In verse 24 Jesus warns, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” We cannot have a heart that seeks both glory through the world and glory through God. Admiration feels good, but it can’t sustain our hearts. Only a close personal relationship with God can do that. In one of William Shakespeare’s most famous poems he writes, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” But God isn’t looking for a cast of characters. He’s looking for people who truly have a desire to serve, love, and worship Him. And to those who forfeit their own glory for the glory of the Lord, Jesus promises, “Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you”! (v. 4)