[Okay, so why did I drop off the devotional-writing map for two months, you ask? Well, I have some excuses, but none of them are very good. Truth is, I used the “I don’t have time to write today” excuse to myself, though I think that was just a different way of saying “I’m not going to make it a priority today.” Regardless, I hope you’ll forgive my little hiatus and join with me as we try to get closer to Jesus in 2014. I plan to write what I hope will be encouraging reflections on life and Scripture as we walk through this year together. It’s a little late, but happy new year! I look forward to sharing with you. To God be the glory. –Chuck]
Anonymous giving is fun, isn’t it? You write a note or send a gift to someone who needs it, but you don’t sign your name because you don’t want the person to feel obligated to return the favor. You just want to encourage, or maybe help.
But be honest—have you ever hoped that maybe the person would find out it was you?
Or maybe it wasn’t like that at all. Maybe it was about just normal Christian living—giving to the church, cooking a meal for a grieving family, or whatever—and you had the fleeting thought, “I wonder if anyone in this church knows how much I do to serve other people?”
Then you probably got rid of the thought as quickly as it came, because you knew what Jesus taught here:
. . . when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:2-4).
Truth is, Jesus is responding to a real struggle for many of us. He might be exaggerating when he talks about people blowing a trumpet, but not by much. Some people want everyone to know how generous they are, or how much time they give, or how many people they serve.
We’ve got to fight against that urge, but it’s kind of hard in our look-at-me world, isn’t it? A benefactor donates money to a hospital and then looks forward to watching his television interview. A politician points to his generosity as evidence that he’s truly compassionate . . . and he’d love to have your vote, of course. Watch the guy who scores a touchdown in one of the NFL playoff games this weekend—he’ll probably show off a few new dance moves in the end zone (“Look at me! Put me on ESPN!”).
Christians walk a different path, though, or we try to. We give to people and try to deflect any attention to the Savior we serve. We recognize our indebtedness to the one who gave himself for us, so we point people to him. We hope he’ll get all the glory, because he’s the only one who truly deserves it.
A few weeks ago scores of people in our church family donated dozens of hours of time, hundreds of food items, and who knows how many articles of clothing so that people in our community might have clothes to keep them warm this winter and food to keep them and their families full.
Why? To get their names in the church bulletin? To get a shout-out from the church pulpit?
I don’t think so. I think they did it so that God would get the glory and that maybe a few people would learn to call on Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
But they’ve got a reward coming, of course, as Jesus says. And that reward is infinitely more fulfilling than the fleeting praise of people here.