Matthew 6:1-4 1 “Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.
The image from the passage above must make you smile. Imagine a pompous person hiring a trumpeter to sound a fanfare just before he put his big gift (“for the poor”) into one of the offering boxes at the Temple. Jesus was likely using hyperbole (exaggeration for effect) in that image, as he certainly was when he said not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. His warning was clear though: you can do a good thing for wrong reasons. Our God can always tell the difference, whether other people can or not.
In truth, generous giving to help others is good. (In fact, it’s one of the five essential practices of the Christian life.*) What Jesus said, though, is that if you give to impress others, then whatever good impression you make on others is all the reward you’re going to get. As we grow in our faith and extend Jesus' call for inner honesty, may we look honestly at the giving we do.
Almighty God, my Lord Jesus, help me to learn from your model of self-giving generosity. Teach me how to do my giving, not for my ego’s sake, but for the sake of those who need what I am able to give. Help me to see and hear your call to give. Father, I ask you to forgive me as I forgive others. I ask you to bless my church family and the communities we are in. May I give abundantly of myself and financially to glorify Your name forever and ever. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006