Jesus expects us to do works of righteousness. Our righteousness must go far beyond that of practitioners of religion, in order to enter God’s kingdom, Matthew 5.20. One way in which it must go beyond is in a superior motivation behind it.
“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven” Matthew 6.1.
In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus cites three examples of righteousness that we must practice: giving, prayer, and fasting.
We must do these three, but looking to God and not to people, expecting reward from the Lord and not human praises. Whoever does them to be seen by others has only this as a reward, for he will not receive anything else from God.
Faith practiced in secret seeks reward from the heavenly Father and not human honors. The mission is not done in secret, it is published from the housetops. The point is why we do what we do, who it is that we want to see us doing it.
That the Father is “in heaven” is significant. From heaven he sees all. From heaven he sends help and every work is practiced thanks to the ability he gives. From heaven he approves those who seek him and will receive us on the last day, that we might enter therein.
As much as people might speak well of our righteousness, only the praise and approval of the heavenly Father are what matter.
Our Father who is in heaven, purify our hearts of wrong motivations, so that we may do all to receive your reward.