‘‘Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 ‘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 honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We are called as Christians to be caring and generous in our practical concern for other so it’s striking that Jesus begins with a warning to “be careful”. Not in any sense that we are in danger of being too generous, but of being ostentatious as a means of drawing attention to ourselves. Well you ask, what difference does it make, what harm has been done, the person in need has still been helped and isn’t that the point? Hasn’t good been done? Yes, in a way, but the obvious problem is that the person’s poverty or need has become a platform for self promotion. If as those who trust in Jesus we are one body, then the way to minister to the needs of others and live out our unity is not to draw attention to their poverty and our generosity. When we are generous without fanfare or gracious without others knowing, it is God who receives the glory and the praise for his provision. Remember we are only instruments in his hands and from the goodness with which he has blessed us we ought to bless others. Ultimately, He is the giver and it’s only right that he should receive the glory.
Prayer: God of mercy, thank you for the freedom to bless others, not as a way to prove to you, them or myself how good I am but as an act of love and in response to the abounding grace you have lavished on me. Give me a gentle heart of compassion and the sense to know that in doing good works I am only doing what is appropriate as a response to your love demonstrated in Jesus and may you receive all the glory. AMEN