The Spiritual Practice of Secrecy – The Sermon on the Mount

Written by admin on Feb 19, 2019 in - No Comments

Jesus warns us not to put our acts of service or devotion on display, like the Pharisees did. “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” In this sermon, Abby introduces the spiritual discipline of secrecy and invites us to consider how we can reflect the hiddenness of Christ.

Sermon Discussion Questions and Practice Handout

  • Abby started by sharing a short about someone anonymously buying her a book, Have you ever been blessed, served, or given something anonymously?
  • Reading Matthew 6:1–6, what are some ways a person casually reading this passage might misinterpret it?
  • What are the Pharisees’ motivations, and why are they to be avoided? What makes their motivations so dangerous that Jesus would warn the disciples, “Beware!”?
  • Jesus had a public ministry, and yet he also lived a life of hiddenness. What are some of the public things he did, and what are ways in which he embraced hiddenness?
  • What are the rewards Jesus mentions in Matt 6:1–6, and how do they differ?
  • Read Proverbs 19:17 & Luke 6:38. What do you believe is a healthy way of thinking about reward? Should we try to avoid wanting a reward, or should gaining reward motivate us?
  • Serving without bringing attention to ourselves is one way to engage the spiritual practice of secrecy. What is particularly hard or rewarding about doing this, for you?
  • Two other ways of embracing hiddenness are refraining from the compulsion to share all we know and celebrating the achievements of others without talking about our own. Have you ever intentionally engaged either? What was it like? Did you notice a benefit?
  • Practicing secrecy in prayer is an antidote to spiritual pride, Abby argued. Do you agree? What kinds of spiritual pride do you see in the larger church today?
  • Take a moment to review the handout on the spiritual practice of secrecy. Is there a practice God might be inviting you into for a day, a week, or a season? Talk to him about it, and ask him to help you.

HANDOUT: What is the spiritual practice of secrecy?

Practicing the spirit of Christ reflected in hiddenness, anonymity, lack of display, & holding confidences.

What are ways to engage the spiritual practice of secrecy?

  • Serve someone without bringing attention to your service.
  • Find an act of service to render without letting anyone know what you have done or why you have done it.
  • Refrain from the compulsion to share everything you know.
  • Abstain from revealing your good deeds, talents, & qualities.
  • Uphold confidentiality, not sharing other people’s secrets or sensitive information.
  • Celebrate the achievements of others without bringing up your own.
  • Consecrate times of intimacy with God, taking moments alone with him & speaking of them with no one else.

Scriptural Basis & Promise

When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who see what is done in secret, will reward you.

—Matthew 6:3–4, 6

Adapted from Spiritual Disciplines Handbookby A. A. Calhoun