Wednesday, March 1, 2017
When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:2-3(NLT)
As the Lenten season begins it’s time to focus inward, and the attitudes we bring to our everyday walk with Christ.
In this part of the Sermon on the Mountain Jesus warns that all the best results of giving disappear when you pat yourself on the back for being so generous. To be certain, if you happen to have billions, and give a lot of it away, as did Bill Gates and other notables, it will make news – it’s hard to hide that much money changing hands! But whether or not it becomes news isn’t why Jesus said to keep our giving a private matter.
Our more important consideration is the needy person who is receiving. When you draw attention to what you give, the needy one who is receiving loses the opportunity to offer appropriate praise to God. Public humiliation can turn thankfulness into envy or even despising the giver. Despite the giver’s best intentions to help, the gift can become a destructive force, rather than a blessing.
So What’s the Best Way to Give?
Jesus used a phrase that is pretty self-evident; don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
Given the reality of hand-eye coordination, and short of a neurological intervention, the right and left hands of any person know what the other is doing. So it’s not possible to literally hide from the left hand what the right is up to. And neither does that explain Jesus’ meaning about how to give. The saying is more an analogy which helps us understand the extreme caution we should take when it comes to the opportunity of being a blessing to another person.
A friend of mine asked me to be involved in blessing young pastors and their families. He had only one condition to which I had to agree – his anonymity; I was to never reveal that he was the one giving the gift. The gift itself was vacation time for pastors of small churches. This friend of mine had seen some situations where young ministry families desperately needed the kind of worry-free time away in order to recharge and focus on each other, and not everyone else’s needs. The demands of ministry and lack of funds are real deterrents to having time away.
Each family we identified received a gift of four days and three nights at Disney, with hotel, attractions, food and spending money all provided. Some of the pastoral families that received this blessing had as many as five children, and could never have afforded this kind of getaway.
Over the few years I was involved in this ministry I saw tears of gratitude and thankfulness from parents who knew God had dropped a blessing on their doorstep. And I’m not sure they received the biggest blessing. I was privy to knowing both the giver and the recipients, and the joy on both sides was a double-blessing to me.
Taking some time during this Lenten season of preparation and repentance to look at what…and how…you give should be accompanied by a prayer for God to lead you into the joy of left and right-handed blindness!