We are a proud, self–aggrandizing people. We want everyone to know how wonderful and great we are. If there is any doubt about this, just ask me! Just ask anyone you meet if they think they are good people.
Jesus taught that when giving “alms” or a mercy gift to the poor or needy “do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, they may have glory from men” (Matt 6:2). Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but the end goal is the same: self–recognition and self–glory.
Isn’t it amazing how everyone wants to talk about himself? It is ridiculously easy to get anyone to converse at length about himself or herself by asking a few personal questions. It is as if they are dying to tell you all about themselves or their accomplishments, but seldom do they return the interest in you.
Matthew 6:3 begins with the connective “but” (“then, or therefore”) to mean that the application of verse 2 in spiritual acts is not to be done for personal benefits. Because it is impossible for you to do anything with your left hand without the right hand knowing, then this is a hyperbole—-an exaggeration to prove a point. The idea is that the closest person should not know what was given in your offering. The focus is on secretly performing spiritual acts to benefit others (6:4).
We must beware that such actions on our part could stem from wanting part of the glory for ourselves. The solution is to be secretive or spontaneous about doing something beneficial for others. Could you give someone a gift in cash with no name on the envelope? Can you imagine doing an unsolicited favor for someone without letting him or her even know who did it?
If God promises a reward for deeds done in secret, is that sufficient motivation to sacrifice for others without letting them know about your sacrifice for them? Do you believe God sees your secret actions? Do you believe His reward is worth more than a person’s acknowledgement?
Why would anyone trade the divine recognition and reward for the transient praise you might receive from a benefactor? Practice secret acts of benefit to others and see what it does to your heart. Do you trust Him to reward you? Whom can you help secretly today?
“Lord, why do I want people to think I am something special or spiritual when I know I am not? Teach me to love to do things that only You will ever know about.”
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