Seen to be Unseen image

Seen to be Unseen

What to do with Christ’s apparently contradictory instructions: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:16) and, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them” (Matt.6:1)?

Gregory answers,

What, then, does it mean that we are to do our good works so that they are not seen and, at the same time, do them so that they might be seen if not that we should hide the things that we do so that we will not be praised for them, but we should show the things that we do so that we may increase the praise of our Father in heaven? For when the Lord prohibited us from “doing our just works before men,” the same added: “so that you will not be seen by them.” And again, when he ordered that we should allow the good works that we do to be seen by men, he added: “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Therefore, the extent to which they are to be seen and not seen he demonstrated at the conclusion of each statement, saying, in effect, that the mind of the one doing the good should not seek to be seen himself, but, at the same time, he should not conceal the glory of the Father who is in heaven. Thus, it often happens, that a good work can be done secretly even though it is performed publicly, and again, it can be done publicly even it is secretive. For when someone who performs his good work in public but seeks not his own glory, but only that of the Father, such a one hides what he does, since he only had him as a witness and cared only about pleasing him. And the one who performed his good work in private but lusted for praise has, in effect, done his work before everyone, since he has made many people the witness of his efforts because he craved in his heart the praise of men.

- The Book of Pastoral Rule, Trans. George E. Demacopoulos, p.201


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