Today’s reading is Genesis 23:1-24:51, Matthew 8:1-17, Psalm 9:13-20, Proverbs 3:1-6.
Our assigned reading is no longer about the Sermon on the Mount, but my thoughts are still back there, sitting at the feet of Jesus, trying to see what new insights those familiar words may have for me. What keeps coming to my mind is this: There is a secret life for the Christian. Of course, secrets in the negative sense of the word can create havoc and bitterness and deep, painful scars. Negative secrets can destroy. We see in the current #MeToo movement that many, many women have held negative secrets of great pain—until now. Bringing these types of secrets to the Light of Jesus releases the grip of pain, shame, and bitterness and in time will render it powerless to hurt you any longer. Don’t keep negative secrets. You certainly don’t have to reveal your negative secrets on a social media platform. In fact, for some, the better choice would be with a trusted friend, family member, pastor or counselor. But today, my thoughts are not on the negative secrets, my thoughts are on the positive ones. For the Christian, there is a whole secret life that only is shared with the Father. We remain open to others, we live in honest community, we remain willing to share our “pearls” with others, but at the same time, we have a whole private life with the Lord. Matthew 6 begins, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” And in verse 6 we see this about our secret life of prayer: “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corner and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
For the Christian, there is a secret life. In verse 14 we are encouraged to forgive those who sin against us, and in turn, God will forgive us. Forgiveness is a secret work. It is hard work that is done in our heart and is between us and God. Yes, others may be involved, but the work of forgiveness is between us and God and is accomplished in our secret, sacred time with Him.
We see in verse 16, that our times of fasting should be accomplished in our secret, sacred life. In those days, fasting was a common practice. People would often put on sackcloth and mope around, announcing to all that they were fasting. Jesus said that our fasting is secret and sacred. It is between us and God.
And in verse 19 we see this same secret, sacred concept in regards to our treasures. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
So, our good deeds, our prayers and time of fasting, our earthly treasure…all should fall under the category of secret and sacred. All of these are between us and God. All of these are part of the intimate privilege of the secret and sacred life of the Christian. And our Father who sees our every secret will help, heal, and reward us.