Verse: Matthew 6:1-4
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This one is pretty straightforward. It gets me every time, though. If you are in any way motivated by other’s approval, by affirmation, by being noticed, then you may feel that way as well.
I know there’s a part of me that wants other people to know when I do something kind. Or generous, or merciful, or just correct. But we just wrapped up a series on generosity, and here’s a little follow-up: God will reward you, don’t look for it from people. This is a tough one, because I think we do care for our reputations. And in a way, that can be good, in as much as we care about what our reputations say about God and his kingdom – but when it’s about how we are seen, for our own sake, that’s where it becomes a problem.
At least it’s a problem if we want to have our cake and eat it too. If we want to get noticed, then getting noticed is our full reward, Matthew says. If we want the reward that comes from God, then we must forego the one that comes from men, or humankind. Matthew quotes Jesus, saying that we are not to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing, or vice versa, in other words. We shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back mentally, either. We are to be generous out of the outpouring of generosity we have received. It’s only natural that we should do this. We are to be righteous because it’s right. And that is where abundant life is found. Not for notice from others.
It feels good, doesn’t it, when someone notices something good that we’ve done? And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving and receiving encouragement! But it always comes back to our hearts, and the motivation behind our actions. And how much more wonderful will it be to be told by the Lord that we did something right?! I think it will be well worth the wait.
Lord, my heart is always turning aside. Would you bring it back into alignment with you? I need your help, and your approval is truly the only one I need. Would you help me to believe it, and act according! Amen.
Author: Emily Costa