Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” ~Jesus
Source: Matthew 6:2-4 (ESV)
There are several challenges here for us to pay attention to in this section of the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7). Jesus changes how we think and act on giving when we listen to Him directly.
This is a good thing since I have spent most of my career raising money for charitable causes. Yikes!
- The first imperative of Jesus is that we need to give. Jesus says, “when you give”. I should be very generous, even if all I have is a little (see the story of the widow’s mite).
- The second imperative is that we need to give to the needy. I am struck that Jesus didn’t say give to the church (synagogue) or government or some other charity. I am not thinking that was inadvertent on the part of Jesus. This challenges us to rethink how we give.
- The third is the giving should be a secret and not for the benefit of looking good in front of others. Now that shoots a hole in our whole culture of giving. What, no more shaming at offering time at church?
- The fourth is that my reward comes from God directly and not the IRS. I think I and others are of the subtle thinking that when I give, I will benefit, perhaps even directly. Jesus is clear that my reward comes from God and God alone.