Charity has always been an important Christian characteristic. Jesus was constantly giving of himself to others. Often times when he did it he said not to tell others about his act. His giving is the reason that we have salvation. Jesus clearly expects us to also have charity, especially to the poor and needy. Here is the verse we will use today to study this concept.
Matt 6:2-4 NIV
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
In these words Jesus makes it clear that we are to give without bringing honor to ourselves. This is one of those places where He called some of the religious of his day hypocrites! Calling church people hypocrites is a common occurrence in today’s church as well. Some of it is well founded; some of it is not. If we give to the needy in order to draw attention to ourselves Jesus says we are hypocrites! We should give so that even we don’t know we are doing it. I don’t know quite how that is supposed to work though 🙂 ? I think it is just human nature that we want others to know the good works we do. But, of course when we do that we might doing it mainly to boost our vane pride. By the words above Jesus says when you do that you have your reward already and don’t expect anything from God for doing it.
As a personal note there is someone I have known most of the life that always makes their giving a very public event! It was always very embarrassing to me to have to witness those acts and the praise they expected to be lavished on them. For that reason I have always tried to live by the red letters above even before I knew of their existence. But I do also often fail when I tell people of my charitable acts. I think I do this to encourage others to also give but maybe I am sometimes doing it to draw attention to myself. So, shame of me when I am a hypocrite with my giving. As the Apostle Paul says sometimes I just can’t seem to do what I know I should do.
The last sentence in these verses says that God will reward us if we give in secret. I’m not really sure just what that reward is? Will it be something in heaven or on earth? I hope it is in heaven. I know there are Christians who are constantly saying things like “yesterday I gave $100 to the needy and today I received an extra $10,000!”. I have always been very uncomfortable with these types people. They seem to be very frequent in some Christian sects today especially among the televangelists. The main message it sends to me is when they do that is to say if you want to be rich then give to the Lord (or to the TV program you are watching). I don’t think that is really what Jesus meant in these verses.
Let’s all pledge to give more to the needy and to keep it a secret.