A short reading and prayers for today
When you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew 6:3-4 NLT
Is there anything worse than hypocrisy? Jesus certainly hated it and had the harshest things to say about the hypocrites of his day. He wanted everyone to have the joy of a real relationship with their heavenly Father, and he knew that putting on an act to impress other people totally missed the point. In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted the hypocrite’s play acting, with true devotion to God. The giving of donations to the poor and needy is a responsibility that everyone has, but the way in which it is done is what matters most. Jesus pointed to the hypocrites who announced their giving with trumpets. This may simply have been dramatic language to describe the sheer vanity of some people’s giving. But we do know that trumpets were sometimes used in connection with giving in the temple. Either way the point is clear. When you give, you shouldn’t make a show of it, because the audience that really matters is God alone.
It clearly wouldn’t be possible for our left hand to keep secrets from our right hand. The brain doesn’t work like that! But it’s not difficult to understand what Jesus meant. He was saying that all of our giving should be done in the most secret way that we can achieve. Anything short of that will miss out on the blessing which God longs to give to us as we make our gifts. That then begs the question, what should we give? The New Testament doesn’t lay down rules for Christian giving. Paul encourages his readers in Corinth to give cheerfully and generously (2 Corinthians 9.6- 11) and to make sure that their giving was regular and in proportion to their income (1 Corinthians 16.2). The actual amount of your giving is between you and God. What matters above anything else is that when we make our gifts it is an expression of our personal love for God, and just between him and us.
What have you learned about your giving from this passage?
Loving God, thank you for your amazing generosity to me. Help me always to be generous in my giving. Amen