The Secret to Spiritual Growth: Why Intentions Matter More Than Actions

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“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” ~ Mt 6:1

Today, I continue diving into the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 1-6 and 16-18. In these passages, Jesus shares with us a few example contrasting actions and intentions to highlight what truly matters in our spiritual growth, our faith, and to God.

Actions vs. Intentions~

In this scene, Jesus offers three (3) examples to illustrate the importance of sincerity in our spiritual practices, and warns against performing religious acts for the sake of public attention:

  • Alms giving: He reminds us there’s no need to blow our own horns to win praises from others.
  • Prayer: He advises not to pray on street corners just to be seen by others.
  • Fasting: He instructs us to keep our fasting private, maintaining a normal appearance so as not to draw attention to our sacrifice.

The essence of these teachings is to do good deeds with humility and there’s no need for public recognition when our true reward comes from God.

The Challenge of Genuine Devotion

Reflecting on these teachings, I see parallels in everyday life. We might display our faith through various signs and symbols—wearing religious items, displaying rosaries in our cars, or adopting a certain demeanor in church. While I don’t see anything wrong with these practices, they become questionable when done for validation or to appear more devout than others.

For example, during Mass, I find it easy to slip into a judgmental mindset when…

  • A person walks in late and leaves right after communion
  • Someone consistently texting during service, or
  • A priest going off script from the liturgical rite

This behavior often stems from a desire to feel superior in my faith because “I know I’m doing it right”. Today’s Gospel challenges us to question the true motivations behind our actions.

Stepping Back To Assess Our Intentions

Jesus’ message prompts a deep self-reflection:

  • Why do I do what I do in my spiritual journey?
  • Is it out of genuine devotion and reverence for God, or am I seeking approval and status from others?
  • Am I doing them to show off that I’m a more devout Catholic than others?

Jesus’ is calling for humility. Not a humility that hides our faithful practices or accomplishments, but one that fuels our actions with sincere devotion rather than the desire for recognition.

As we go through our day and continue our faith journey, let’s continuously evaluate our intentions. Are we seeking to honor God, or are we feeding our egos?

In peace,

~Juan

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