Matthew 6: 3-4 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Nothing much is a secret anymore. We live amongst a people that relish in exalting themselves and glorying in their accomplishments. Thanks to the ‘wonder’ of social media, in an instant we know what people are doing, eating, wearing, saying, hating and loving. And giving is certainly no longer a private affair. Everywhere are those who boastfully declare their good deeds to all, puffing themselves up with pride like oversized balloons ready to burst. Parading personal piety and blowing our own trumpet is almost acceptable behavior nowadays. Everybody does it, so that makes it right, doesn’t it?
Matthew 6: 1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
That’s not what Jesus taught. In the above passage He was specifically speaking out against the hypocritical righteousness of the Pharisees. Lacking sincerity, they gave simply to draw attention to themselves. They were acting for effect – making a show of their charity in order to impress. Their object was to exalt themselves, not help the poor. Prominent in the action, but not genuine in the giving, they wanted all the glory. However, Jesus reminds His listeners, that giving is an act of worship to be done to the praise of God alone.
Surely Jesus’ words of warning can be applied to us today – especially in such a self-glorifying culture. In order for us to guard against insincere motives, Jesus says that whenever we give, it is best done in secret. That is, our giving is to be hidden or unexplained, kept from the knowledge of others. We are to give with simplicity of heart, with so little show of self-glorification that even our left hand, so to speak, shall not be admitted into the secret that the right hand is doing. Otherwise, the satisfaction which we may feel on account of having done a charitable deed will detract from God receiving the glory.
Let’s be honest: this is a hard call from Jesus. It requires authentic humility, interior quietness, deep concern for others and unrelenting submission to God. The false self craves to have its own way. It wants to be seen and heard. So, to give in the manner that Jesus instructs, the false self must be crucified, so that Jesus’ character can take its rightful place in us. Jesus was fully free from self-exaltation. He was completely humble, totally surrendered to His Father’s will, and wholeheartedly trusted in God’s plan and purposes. In this way, He did not need to promote or justify Himself. He did not need the applause of others. He was confident and secure in God alone. And all that He did was to please Him.
John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
How do we respond to these teachings of Jesus? Do they make us uncomfortable? How easily can our ego forgo the desire to be seen, heard and praised? Perhaps, we need to work on the fruit of humility and practice silence rather than letting others know what good deeds we have been doing ‘ín His name?’ And let’s recheck our motive as to whether our charitable deeds have been done in Jesus’ name, or in the name of ourselves. Jesus lived to bring glory to an audience of One. And so must we.
‘Holy Lord, forgive me when I seek praise and approval from others. Help me to seek only Your approval and do the works that You show me so that others would be blessed and You would be glorified. Thank You.’