Say to all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? (Zechariah 7:5-6 ESV)
Every time I read this Scripture I am reminded to ask the Holy Spirit to show me what my motives are as I work, worship, and just plain live. Why do I do what I do? This question is especially applicable to my religious life, as it was to the Jewish people addressed here. Why do I sing songs of praise, to honor God, or to make myself feel a certain way? Why do I do “up front” ministry, to get everyone gathered to focus on Jesus, or to see me? I can do these things – good things – with selfish motives. When I do, I rob God of His glory.
In the original Hebrew, the “for me” is repeated. “Was it for me that you fasted – for me?” What a haunting echo. Why do I do what I do? One question helps when asking this question. What would I do if no one said anything to me about my up-front ministry? About my singing? (Actually, I really hope no one ever listens to me sing.) About my religious activity? If I was never noticed, never thanked, never complimented, would I still do what I do? People who are doing things for themselves rather than Jesus tend to give up if their actions don’t gain the personal attention they seek.
I am not saying that we should not thank others for what they are doing. Thank them! Encourage them! It is sinful if you don’t. What I am not saying is that it is your job to keep others humble by your silence about what they do. What I am saying is, “What is your response when people are silent to you?”