The reinforcement facade

The reinforcement facade

Watch out! do not try to demonstrate how good you are in the presence of others, to be admired by them. If you do, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. – Matthew 6:1 

Luke 22:25-27 

 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’

 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde was published in 1999 and adapted into a film of the same name in 2000. The basic idea is that when you are a recipient of a good deed, you should pay it forward to others. Each recipient should assume a personal responsibility to do three good deeds for others. This would create a 3 to 1 ratio of doing good to others that would spread geometrically. The practice of helping one another could make the world a kinder, more caring and helpful place.

There are many different types of reinforcement, but when it comes to human beings, one of the most common is the naturally occurring social reinforcers that we encounter all around us every day.

Many acts of human kindness have their own reward and provide personal, private reinforcement. They basically make us feel good about us.  Social reinforcement refers to reinforcers such as smiles, acceptance, praise, acclaim, and attention from other people (

Sadly, in our fallen condition. Positive reinforcement becomes an enticement. We were lured to reinforce our reinforcement by getting others to feel good about us too. We are sadly short-sighted and grab for temporal rewards disregarding eternal ones. The Lord Jesus Christ unequivocally advised against this. Ostentatious displays of kindness or piety are unfitting for the Father’s children. Children of the King are in the business of  serving others rather than serving ourselves.


Acts of human kindness and service should be Father-centered rather than self-centered.

Father, thank you for all the grace, mercy, and kindness you have shown me. Encourage me to be gracious, merciful, and kind to others.


Matthew 6:1  Watch out! do not try to demonstrate how good you are in the presence of others, to be admired by them.  

The Greek verb translated take heed, beware,or watch out is prosecho. It was used as a nautical term. It meant to hold the ship in a particular direction, to sail towards, keep on course. It came to mean to apply one’s mind to something, attend to, give heed to, or pay attention to. The idea is “hold your mind fastened on this” (Richison). As a warning. It has the sense, “Be on your guard,”  “Be sure that you don’t,” “Don’t ever,” or “You must never.”

In modern colloquial English, we might say, “focus” or in the immortal words of Aretha Franklin, “You better think, (think, think)”.

Each child of the King should make this their all-encompassing maxim. We should be careful to do good in the right way, for the right reasons.

In Matthew 6:1-18, the word “Father” occurs 10 times. Good deeds and acts of devotion should be done for Him. We should be motivated by love and devotion for the Father, not to be seen and applauded by people. Public recognition is a sin of religious service (Richison). Motives count and there are wrong ways to do good things.

When good deeds are done, they should be done secretly not to be noticed by others. The Lord Jesus Christ uses hyperbole to communicate this idea effectively: not even our left-hand should know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3).

In Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus Christ highlights three areas where piety and worship become distorted: giving 6:2-4, prayer 6:5-15, and fasting  6:16-18. Be on your guard, do good, do it for the right reasons.

Many of the Father’s children are fooled by the facade of the world’s servant hierarchy.  In the Father’s kingdom, the servant hierarchy is inverted.

Mark 10:42-45

 42 Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.

 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;

 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

As children of the King, we should assume responsibility to pay forward acts of human kindness. Our ultimate motivation should be to pay forward the kindness that we have received from our Father God.

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