48. As has been said many times, in everything we do God examines our motive, to see whether we are doing it for His sake or for some other purpose. Thus when we desire to do something good, we should not do it for the sake of popularity; we should have God as our goal, so that, with our gaze always fixed on Him, we may do everything for His sake. Otherwise we shall undergo all the trouble of performing the act and yet lose the reward.
This text rephrases as a more general statement what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If you do anything for the sake of public recognition, the recognition we receive is the only reward we’ll receive from the act. It won’t fundamentally change us. It won’t make us more like Christ. It won’t heal us. God allows us to choose the paltry reward of fleeting acclaim from others if that’s what we desire.