In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1 (ESV)
The verses above present what appears at first glance to be a contradiction. We are supposed to let our light shine before others, but not so that we will be seen by them. How do we reconcile the two? How do you let your light shine through your good works but at the same time not do your works so that they are seen by others? Of course, Jesus knew exactly what He was saying in these two verses. Our goal in letting our light shine should not be for our own recognition, but for the Father’s glory.
Unfortunately, the temptation to seek recognition is often strong but subtle. There is a desire in our hearts for acceptance, and we feel “right” accepting praise from others when we think we’ve done something well. Yet, Jesus warns us that our attitude should be that of a humble servant, as was His. There should be no expectation of praise or recognition for doing what we were called to do. There should be no hurt feelings when we are not praised for our efforts.
“and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matt 6:4 (NIV)
Because our lives belong to God, since we have been bought with a price, we should live not to make a name for ourselves, but for His glory alone. Since we have died with Him and have been raised to new life through His Spirit, all praise for our efforts belongs to Him who empowers and strengthens us.