Healthy Habits for Living Loved: #1 – Secrecy

A Trinitarian Paraphrase of Matthew 6:1-16

(6.1) As you live out the Triune goodness in your life, beware the temptation to use it to impress people.  If love is a means to some other end, it is not love. (2) If ulterior motives are intruding into your attempts at love, try exercising the discipline of secrecy. For example, when you give to the poor, don’t publicize it. If you do it for publicity, publicity is all you’ll get.  You want more than that; you want to share in the Triune life of self-giving love. (3) So when you give to the poor, be sneaky about it.  Try to make it so nobody knows but you and Papa. (4) As this practice of secrecy kills off your ulterior motives, you will become more able to experience the joy of giving.

(5) If you want to impress people with your spiritual skills, just find a stage and perform a prayer on it.  It really works, if that is indeed what you want.  (6) But you want something more—real sharing in the eternal Triune conversation.  If your desire to impress people is poisoning your prayer life, try praying in private behind a closed door, where those ulterior motives won’t get in the way.  (7) And remember, our relationship with Papa is not magic.  There are no magic words or phrases that you need to use in order to make it ‘work.’  Long prayers are no better than short ones, and vice versa. (8) Don’t be like that.  Papa knows what you need even before you ask.

(9) You want me to teach you how to pray?  It’s REALLY complicated.  Watch this:

Hi, Papa.  We’re so happy you’re the one who’s running things.  You are wonderful to us; nothing compares to you. (10) More than anything else, we long for the day when the whole world will know you fully and happily work at your side. (11) But in the meantime, take care of our needs today. (12) Help us to share in your cheerful love for us and for everyone, despite the bad choices we will all make today. (13) Help us to respond wisely to today’s little trials, so that they won’t grow into big trials for tomorrow.  Help us to not believe lies today.

(14) Papa’s forgiveness is a funny thing: we receive it by giving it away to others. (15) When you refuse to give forgiveness to others, you are refusing to receive it from Papa. Not a real shrewd move.

(16) Anyway, back to the thing about secrecy… When you fast, don’t advertise what you’re doing.  That will work if you want to build a reputation as a ‘spiritual person,’ but that’s all you’ll get. (17) Instead, try being an undercover faster.  Wash your face and do your hair, (18) so it won’t be obvious you’re fasting.  The secrecy will kill off your ulterior motives, so that they won’t get in the way as you learn to live on Something other than bread alone.

~ John Stonecypher

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