Excellence in the Quiet Place

It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God.
Charles Dickens, The Life of Our Lord

When athletes or pop stars or comedians perform at Madison Square Garden, it’s because they’re known for excellence. They’ve honed their skills for years, and on the night of the championship game or big show, they focus on giving an excellent performance for those gathered. That they give their very best in front of thousands isn’t particularly commendable. It’s just expected. What’s commendable is striving for excellence in secret. It’s the NBA player going home and washing the dirty dishes. It’s the rock idol shoveling a neighbor’s driveway while she’s at work. It’s the popular comedian pausing to set up chairs and tables at church. When Jesus described how His followers are to give and to pray and to fast, He advised them to practice it all with a low profile. They are to perform for the eyes of the Father, “who sees what is done in secret”