Summary: Whose applause do you seek? Don’t tell me you don’t need any! You would only be kidding yourself.

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Playing for Whose Applause?

Text- Matthew 6: 1-8, 16-18

Everybody loves applause! Recognition is a good thing. Last Sunday, you encouraged Pastor Steve and me tremendously by expressing your appreciation for our work in ministry. I guess I am hopelessly sentimental, but as I read your comments at the dinner table - I was choking back tears, much to the amusement of my daughter and son-in-law!

In today’s message, Jesus speaks to the issue of applause and appreciation. I don’t want you to hear the wrong message and conclude that it is wrong to give thanks or to receive it! I labor under that misconception to this day, having a very hard time receiving praise. Praise for a job well done, for faithfulness, or for achievement is a good gift. But, as we will see in our text, if we become focused on gaining awards, if we crave praise - our service will become corrupt.

Whose applause do you seek?

Don’t tell me you don’t need any! You would only be kidding yourself.

• Husbands want their wives to think they are good men.

• Wives want their husbands to desire them, to believe that they are good spouses and mothers.

• Employees are motivated by the possibility of being named Best Production person of the Month.

• Students work to be included on the Honor Roll.

• Teens crave the approval and/or admiration of their peers.

We all like to hear words of approval from our friends. Behind it all is the question that most of us ask ourselves in one way or another.... Am I a worthy person? What makes me valuable?

Tony Campolo, sociologist, writer, and Christian speaker, writes-

"There is a drivenness about the American people....each is trying to establish his or her own place in society through personal achievement. People are supposed to earn their own place on the ladder of success. Somehow we Christians believe that being caught up in the drive to gain recognition and to obtain the symbols of success is something we left behind when we committed ourselves to Christ. But few beliefs are further from the truth....

The symbols of success may change, but Christians are even more plagued than others by anxieties about their performance in life. For Christians the stakes are even higher than for the secularist. We are constantly judging ourselves in negative ways because we fall short of expectations. We think our prayer life is not good enough; or our Bible study is not deep enough; or we aren’t witnessing enough; or we are not loving enough."

1 The Performance Illusion, Chap Clark, Navpress, 1994; Foreword


This anxiety about our personal worth, about our sense of achievement, and God’s approval can easily misdirect our Christianity into a life of performance of good deeds designed to earn the applause of others.

What does Jesus say about that?

TEXT- Matthew 6: 1-8, 16-18 {Pew Bible page 1503}


What is central truth in this whole passage? Keep your focus on the One whose approval matters most!

Jesus sets His teaching in the context of three spiritual acts - giving, praying, and fasting!

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