So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matthew 6:2 NAS)
Paparazzi seem to be the name of the game with the famous even though they have come under constant fire for invasion of privacy. In an article by Orthry Torres at Voices.Yahoo.com some years ago, the author questioned the reason for the inordinate attention and negative talk about those who make celebrities famous by the publicity they gave them. Should not celebrities expect being famous is accepting both their personal and professional lives will be watched and criticized from the media? If celebrities feel the paparazzi make them feel as if they are being stalked, is it fair to say they only mind being stalked when they have a book, movie, or album they need help in promoting?
Getting the publicity one desires and losing one’s privacy are two sides of the same coin when it comes to celebrity living. On the one hand it is a way of getting famous, on the other it may be deemed as invading private lives.
In the Gospel, Jesus warned about the practice of righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise we have no reward with our Father who is in heaven. When giving to the poor, therefore, we should not sound a trumpet as the hypocrites do, so as to be honored by men, for such have their reward in full. We should instead give in secret that our Father who sees what is done in secret will reward us (Matthew 6:1-4).
Jesus during His ministry on earth was famed for His teachings and the miracles He performed. Yet He took time to be alone to pray and get away from the crowd to fellowship with His twelve disciples. Frequently, however, when He withdrew to a secluded place the crowd would track Him down. Jesus did not turn them away or see them as invading his private life but felt compassion for them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:13-14). Although He received inordinate attention wherever He went, Jesus did not feel annoyed that He was stalked. Even when Jesus saw the crowd that came to watch the spectacle—His humiliation on the Cross—before He breathed His last, He did not resent them. Instead, He prayed for them saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, 48).
Such was the contrast between the two, one of staged publicity and the other of genuine love and care for the public.
Today, many of us in a sense are celebrities online. Whether it is peer pressure or the need to stay in touch, we join social networks and leave behind trails of digital footprints of what we do and where we visit on the Internet. Our movements are tracked down by our followers and we are ‘stalked’ by different kinds of people. If we leave trails because we desire attention or to be followed, we might just get our reward or lose our credibility in full, depending on how well we handle our online activities and behavior. If we do not do well, our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23). If we blabber or share about the things we do in our private lives on the social networks, we should not expect to live our lives with absolute privacy.
Are we feeling we are under the scrutiny of the public eye? Are we making ourselves famous for the wrong reasons or are we doing it out of concern for others? Not all things in life can be done in secret, so we need not hide what must be done even in public. Our intent is what is important—are we doing it to show off or to care?
Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes blowing our own trumpet to gain popularity or publicity. We know Lord such activities do not deserve Your reward and can bring to ourselves unnecessary troubles. We pray Lord that You will watch over us that we may not fall into the trap of losing our private lives to public scrutiny. Mold us Lord to become more and more like You that in compassion and love we will reach out to the crowd to meet their needs.