Christian Talk; Beware the pat on the back.




( My mother used to have a phrase when she was alive. Usually referring to me and my attitude when I thought I had done something particularly noteworthy. She used it when describing somebody who started acting like they were better than someone else or, basically felt their No. 2 didn’t stink.

She would say that person was simply, “smelling him or herself.”

I came to see it as fishing for a compliment.

The bible says unless your deeds are done to glorify God rather than yourself, you’re ‘smellin yoself.’ I’m here to tell you it’s at these times that one ought to be very careful because spiritually, you’re entering deep water.

“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward in heaven.” Matthew 6:1.

It appears that intent and motivation are the true indicators of a person’s real character and ultimately how he or she is viewed by God. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons gets you nothing. Zilch. Nada. I mean, supposedly, if you are trying to impress friends and family, or trying to receive honors from your fellow man for doing good deeds, you’re smelling yourself and sorely in need of some Right Guard.

Doing what you know is right —forgiving your enemies, turning the other cheek, helping the less fortunate, speaking truth to power — these are the things that are supposed to be done so that others might see the deed(s) as glorifying the Almighty; not so that people will be impressed with you.

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Even in prayer, the bible says, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Your Father will reward you. Matthew 6:6.

Haven’t we all been unimpressed with someone who appears to sincerely help us or help another person out of what appears to be the goodness of their heart, only to find them with their hands out to get theirs, or their backs turned so the world can pat them on it?

God tells us in His own ways that if you do that, talk to the hand because the ears ain’t listening. You don’t give to receive, and you don’t love to be loved. That’s blackmail. That’s extortion. It’s impure and spiritually unacceptable.

Give because you want to and love because it’s who you are. Anything else is a fraud and an affront to Jesus who gave His all and loved unconditionally, so that we all might live. “In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise the father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

Granted, walking around with that level of purity in one’s heart might be a bit much for most of us, present company included. However, it’s pretty easy to know, acknowledge and understand that the real reason we reach out to someone else is to be seen as a good person by others.

We all want to be thought highly of by our peers, our parents and those closest to us. But in reality, only God counts when it comes to appreciating who we really are. Anything else is show. The rest is ego. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.

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All of this points to being true to one’s self, then talking the talk and walking the walk. The echo of my mother’s wit resonates in my mind as I try to remember exactly what mom was trying to teach me about myself. Before I get too full of me, the real test just might be a good whiff of the fragrance underneath my arm. Nobody can pour anything into a full vessel. How you ‘smellin’ today?

May God bless and keep you always.

Written by James A. Washington

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