Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1
This verse moves us out of the section dealing with the law, and with how to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and into teaching on hypocrisy. In the coming verses we will learn about prayer and fasting, but the underlying message that is being communicated is how to avoid hypocrisy. Matthew 6:1 lays out the intent of this section very clearly, there is no reward for performing acts of righteousness to be noticed, period. Later in the scriptures you find Jesus talking about how those who are doing acts of righteousness in public have already received their reward in full. Understand that while the primary reason we perform any acts of righteousness is for the glory of God and the honor of His name, nonetheless there is reward involved and that reward is with the Father and from the father. At the same time acts of piety can get you great reward from men and women here. There is a great tension that exists in the lives of many believers, and unfortunately in my life as well, there is this desire to be pleasing to the Lord and to do everything in secret for Him, but there is often an underlying desire that others would know your works.
For those who have a constant desire to be respected and honored by people, the church is an easy place to feed that desire. If someone acts pious and spiritual in the context of the Christian community they usually receive respect and honor, for someone who is starving for attention and in bondage to pride the church is the perfect place to get yourself honor. Even people who enter into the ministry and appear to make some huge sacrifice to share the gospel will often do it knowing that they will receive the respect and honor of a community, which they may have not received in their previous employment. Beware of practicing acts of righteousness before men, the only reward for that type of devotion is the honor and praise of people, but those types of 'righteous acts' will put you a million miles away from God and His true blessings and rewards.
Be discerning believers when you see someone doing all sorts of wonderful works. Examine to see if those works just flow out of the believer's life and are like a light that cannot be hid under a bushel, or are you seeing these wonderful works because they are positioning themselves to be seen? There is a fine line here, we are to 'let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our father in heaven' and at the same time we are to beware of practicing righteousness before men to be noticed by them.