An Audience of One – Matthew 6:1

Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them, if you do you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” Mt 6:1

In this introductory verse, Theologian D Carson (1984) states, three chief acts of Jewish holiness are discussed; charity, prayer and fasting. In each act the structure is the same: (1) a warning not to do the act to be praised by men, (2) a guarantee that those who ignore this warning will be repaid minimally, (3) instruction on how to perform the act secretly, and (4) the assurance that the Father who sees in secret will reward such.
The Pharisees’ great weakness was that they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise (John 5:44; 12:43). Those who give out of this attitude receive their reward in full. They win human praise, and that is all they get (Ps 17:14).

Once whilst reading the Bible with an ex Asian gangster, a powerfully built young kick boxer who had just begun his journey with God, we read this verse together. Often from the most surprising sources God brings forth His wisdom (Acts 4:13). The young man responding to the verse stated – “An audience of One”. When kick boxing, he often felt this way. No matter how many fans cheering or heckling, inside the ring – the praise of others quickly fades away. The audience disappears leaving only yourself. An audience of one.


Our acts of kindness, compassion and charity should be conducted similarly. Helping others is not about receiving praise, awards or for self affirmation. All of this does not come from the right motive . .. an audience of one is the best practice when carrying out our acts of righteousness.

The way to avoid hypocrisy is not to cease helping but to do so with such secrecy that we scarcely know what we have done. Jesus’ disciples must themselves be so taken by God (2 Cor 8:5) that their acts of compassion are prompted by obeying God and having empathy for others. Then their Father, who sees what is done in secret (Heb 4:13), will reward them. (Carson, 1984).