Matthew 6:1 says “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”.
We can see by this verse that we need to be careful of how we do things and check our motives for doing them. The questions to ask is are we doing them because they are the right thing to do or are we doing them to get some sort of recognition from those around us?
Further on in the passage Jesus talks about three things we can do that get us public praise. I can them the “but when you” statements.
Verse 4 says “But when you give to the needy…..”
This can be something we can do privately or we can do publicly and make a big show of it. Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing.
Verse 6 says “But when you pray…..”
Again when we pray we can make a big show of it or we can do most of it privately. Jesus told us not to be like the hypocrites who grandstand with our prayers in the church or on street corners.
Verse 17 says “But when you fast…..”
Fasting is about giving up things for God and pressing in to Him for breakthrough in some area. Jesus tells us to keep it quiet and not seek praise from others for doing it. Fasting is about you and God.
Of course these verses are not saying that we should never let anyone know what we are doing. There are times when we should tell people what we have done because it will encourage them on to greater things in their own life.
But most of the time these things should be done in secret with no show or expecting praise from others. It is about the heart attitude we have and our motives for doing it.