Jesus continues His sermon with an adamant warning against living life to earn the praise of men. He urges His listeners to live from a place not meant to be public. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven,” [6:1], a warning against hypocrisy; for how easily we tend to perform for others. But not so with Jesus; He spoke what He lived. For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. Matthew 12:34
Jesus spoke what was in keeping with His character, the overflow of His very nature. UCLA basketball Coach and committed Christian, John Wooden said, “the true test of character is what he does when nobody is watching.” In other words, our authentic self is expressed in our secret place. The Secret Place reveals truth.
Consider His Secret Place
- [6:1] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them;”
- His Secret Place, a place of Authenticity. “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. John 17:4-5
- [6:2] “So when you give to the poor…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Generosity. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor…21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-18, 21
- [6:5] “When you pray…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Communion. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16
- [6:14] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
- His Secret Place, a place of Mercy. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing…” Luke 23:34
- [6:16] “Whenever you fast…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Overcoming. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
- [6:19] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Wealth. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ… Ephesians 3:8
- [6:22] “The eye is the lamp of the body…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Clarity. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. John 1:9
- [6:33] “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Resolve. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35
- [6:34] “So do not worry about tomorrow…”
- His Secret Place, a place of Confidence. Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” John 17:1-2
- [6:1] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
- His Secret Place, a place of Approval. “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” John 6:27 [NIV]
How can we respond to His Secret Place?
Recently, while traveling and in a hotel room with my dear friend, I put on my headphones and said, “I’m getting ready to go into La La Land, He’s waiting for me.” Later I wondered if referring this way to my date time with the Lord was irreverent or disrespectful, for I certainly did not intend it to be. A search on urban-dictionary.com led me to the following: “You know when you see someone and think, “wow, they’re in their own world.” Well that world is la la land.” Most dictionaries refer to “la la land” as “a state of being out of touch with reality.”
To the world, this Secret Place is out of touch, “our own world;” but we are not called to answer to, or please, the world. What a joy and privilege to meet with Him, the Creator and Authority of all reality, in His World, His Secret Place!
So what shall we do?
John Wooden also said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” We need only be concerned about the approval of One. And there is no pretense to cloak our character before Him. Let us commit to daily meet Him in the Secret Place, in authenticity, without hypocrisy. It will be in our daily, authentic, secret times that He will do the work only He can, to fashion us into the image of His Son. And as we grow in Him, we too will thrive in the Secret Place of Authenticity, Generosity, Communion, Mercy, Overcoming, Wealth, Clarity, Resolve, Confidence and Approval.
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. [6:6]