Giving In Secret

 

Matthew 6 1

“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.” Matthew 6:1-4

Yesterday was the coldest day of my life! The temperatures here in Erie, Pennsylvania dipped to a 9 below zero. The heat wasn’t working well overnight. When I woke up my house was very cold. Up north we are recovering from a “polar vortex,” a sort of Arctic hurricane. I spent the day reading God’s Word and trying to stay warm indoors. It could have been a life-threatening situation for anyone who went outside unprepared for the negative wind chill factor. I am very thankful today for the physical warmth I feel now that the weather and my house have warmed up. Praise God for the light and the heat!

Being stuck indoors, I was thinking about one of my favorite places to go where I can find solitude outdoors. It is the place pictured above: Walnut Creek on the trails near the Asbury Woods Nature Center. Here you can be alone with nature and feel the presence of God. It is not uncommon to see wildlife scampering through this beautiful outdoor sanctuary. There is hardly a soul there in the fall and winter when it rains and snows. It is the perfect place to praise the Lord for the beauty of creation and to listen to what He has to say to you. Peaceful. Quiet. Serene. No noise and hustle and bustle of the world. A secret escape, if you will.

Contrast this with the online world. Nowadays it seems everyone has acclimated to using social media as a way of mass communication. People have a strong need to share every detail of their lives, and to play the highlight reel for others to see. They receives “Likes” and accolades for everything they choose to write and share. People learn to thrive on the attention they receive from others. They especially enjoy posting everything good or noteworthy they accomplish, so they can have others pat them on the back. It all feels a little dangerous and addicting, and a little narcissistic. The number of your “Friends” are counted, every comment is recorded for you and others to see, and every “Like” is visible. Did you know the word of the year last year was “selfie,” which is a picture you take of yourself to post online for others to see? I believe social media can be used to help feed people the Word of God and bring people to Christ, but I also believe it is a way for Satan to subtly help feed our egos and self image.

It reminds me very much of the Pharisees who would stand in the public square and encourage others to pay attention to them. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that they have already received their reward in full. He instructs us to give to Him in secret, so we won’t be puffed up with pride. God wants us to bring glory and honor to Him and to remain humble. He prefers us to stay out of the spotlight, and to let Him have the stage. Everything we say and do should be done to draw attention to eternal things, not the things of man. I admit that I love using Facebook, and I can get caught up in all of attention too. The Bible encourages humility and maintaining a low profile, which can run very contrary to the world’s way of thinking.

I hope that if you are a user of social media, you will ask the Lord to help you see whether you are being like a Pharisee in any way. Perhaps you might not be active on social media, but maybe you have figured out how to gain applause in your workplace, your classroom, your church, where you volunteer or somewhere else. I encourage you to let the Lord show you how to give in secret. It’s not easy to do in this day and age when you can shout to the whole world when you hit the “Send” or “Post” button. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch or favorite lounge chair to make this happen.

I like to picture myself at this creek where you can hear even the snap of a twig in the forest. It feels like a secret getaway. May we remember that it means so much more to the Lord when we give to Him in secret. He made a big point to tell us this over and over again in the New Testament. He had strong names and strong words for the Pharisees who did things for the reward of man, not God. We don’t have to shout from the rooftops every little thing we are doing in His name. Just remember that someday when you stand before God in heaven and give an account for your life He will reward you in a great way for everything you did under heaven in His name. An eternal reward is so much better than an earthly one! Let all of the praise, glory, honor and accolades be reserved for Jesus Christ and the work He is doing in, through and around us to further the Kingdom of Heaven!

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18 Responses to Giving In Secret

  1. People Empowerment Project says:

    I’ve featured this site on my Hopeful Links page at http://hopealliance3.wordpress.com/hopeful-links/

  2. People Empowerment Project says:

    Michelle,

    Thanks for sharing this personal aspect of your life. When we talk about mentioning the “low points” as well as the “pride points” in our lives, I confess. You and I have something in common, kind of, but not really. I digress. Whereas your limitation is with hearing, my limitation is often found with listening. I really need to FOCUS in order to listen accurately. Otherwise, I’m prone to react rather than respond to what I hear. The reason I said “kind of” is because I have more of a choice in my weakness than you do.

    BTW, Have you ever read Helen Keller’s autobiography? I recommend it highly, even though she and I didn’t come to the same conclusions regarding our faith paradigms.

    I posted this here because the “reply to” feature wasn’t working.

  3. People Empowerment Project says:

    The polar vortex reached Atlanta, Savannah and other points in GA. Since we are two counties south of NC, we really got hit hard. The result led to frozen water in the pipes leading to our bathroom, but thankfully they did not break. But the electrical panels, the old style fuse box, as differentiated from circuit breakers, collapsed with the use of space heaters, leading us to stay away from home last night. The landlord is trying to solve the problem today.

    Regarding the key point of your article, what crossed my mind at the outset was a question, “What are the ‘trumpets’ we use today?”

    Blog publishing? Numbers of likes? Lists of followers? High Google rankings? Books published? Etc.?

    Just thinking out loud…

    Thanks for sharing, and caring.

    • Thank you for your comment! Yikes, it sounds like you got hit hard by that cold weather.I hope you get your problem solved soon!

      Yes, even blog publishing can be a trumpet. We sure have a whole lot of trumpets these days that were never available before. They can have a far-reaching, worldwide impact too. Our trumpets can be used to make ourselves be heard or to make Jesus known. The choice is up to us!

      Our identity is found in Christ, not in how many people appreciate us and what we do.

      • People Empowerment Project says:

        I’m interested in some more detailed thoughts from you and others about just what it means to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing… That has always mystified me. Is it just an abstract thought, or …?

    • The Trumpets used to send the good word is any form that reaches another. Every form of communication can and should be used to get out the word and make change. The trumpets used today to brag about how pius we are or how giving are the same places. I don’t need to brag here about my mitsfa because the only one who needs to know my heart knows it without a word said. I’ve done much I’m proud of beause it was right and I’ve done much I’m ashamed off because it was wrong. So if we want to brag about all we do right maybe we should humble by all we do wrong as well?

      But for todays trumpets. I’ve seen posts on every medium and people even stand up in church and “announce” how hey gave x dollars to this or that. Most of my gifts to others aren’t of money they are of self. When another turly hurts and we are the shoulder, the comfort that is also mitsfa. And it needs no announcement it’s known by those who need to know and flet by those who need to feel. Enough for now. Amen and god bless. Thanks for thinking aloud it made me think to.

      • People Empowerment Project says:

        I like these thoughts. Very true. I’d like to add that at times, we may find that a trumpet in today’s context may be easily misunderstood. This wasn’t the case with those who would literally beat their faces to look as if they were mourning while fasting.

        With this in mind, even though there are opportunities to be misunderstood simply because of the nature of the beast known as digital communication. For most of us, Internet communication comes up far short of didactic communication, in person or even on the phone. So, how can we KNOW that we are not dealing with a potential trumpet? To truly be interacting with others in such a way that we are adding three dimensional value to their lives. And this isn’t easy.

      • Agreed! True interaction requires a true invest in the lives of others.

      • Not easy at all my friend. I guess my best answer is I put myself out there when I write. I write raw and from my heart and I hope my message strikes home. That is the best we can do with digital media is put it out there and hope the message we wished to impart was heard and understood. /hugs for the solid questions and keeping me thinking that could be dangerous me and thinking lol

      • Keep writing from your heart, and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      • People Empowerment Project says:

        One thing that we don’t usually see (or read) in digital communication is a very valuable tool used in didactic communication. It may be called parroting for clarification, but I just made that phrase up. It goes something like this:

        I restate what you said… I say what I think you meant by what you said… I ask, “Is that what you meant?” Or am I misunderstanding a key element in your thoughts?

        We know that even though there is no direct connection between the fast food industry and communication between complex beings, that the mindset attached to the former is also easily attached to the latter. It takes time to overcome this, and effort. And we are all too much in hurry with so many thoughts to respond, reply, react to, that something gets lost in the mix. We may actually damage the beautiful art of human communication, and become closet cynics as a result.

        Then there’s the trust factor, but that is a whole new subject…

      • Well for me I trust most people are honest. But you are right much can be lost in translation. Words thought to be understood but in reality the topic missed the mark. For me growing up deaf written communication has always been the best first attempt for me. Most don’t sign. Even so I’ve been misunderstood at time and I’ve misunderstood others at times. 🙂

      • Amen! Very well said. I agree that we tend to brag about all we do well, but we hush up when we we do wrong. Our failures show we are human, and how much we need to the Lord. Our failures can be God’s best opportunities to help us to learn, trust and rely on Him. Keep on doing what you are doing for the Lord! Praise God for all that is done in secret to further His kingdom!

      • My blog is as much about my failures as what I’ve learned from them. We tend to forget our failures also teach. I’ve so many lessons learned seems I fail more than succeed but I guess in life as humans all we can ask of ourselves is we learn and try and be/do better. I love this post by the way 🙂

  4. I agree with everything you wrote. Like the mythological character Narcissus who was so enamored with his own appearance….he could not stop staring at his own reflection in a pond. He was ultimately turned into a flower for his vanity…left with no life at all and of no use to others…..hmmmm, sounds a lot like today’s über social media frenzy too. Thanks for your well thought post.

  5. Mtsfa. To give without expectation. The best way to do it is in private.

    We had a neighbor who was hurt and out of work and I remember my father and others delivering door at the door step and running off. He never knew who did what though he had a good idea who were giving. When he got back on his feet he helped start a food pantry where staples like canned goods, and dry foods can be found by any in need.

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