Today’s Scripture: Proverbs 19:6

6 Many seek the favor of the generous, and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts. (ESV)

This is the season of giving. There are packages everywhere, all brightly wrapped and ribboned, just waiting to get into the hands of the recipients. All that time and effort in finding the gift, wrapping it, filling out the card and then waiting for the big pay off when they open the gifts and recognize you for all your hard work, isn’t that wonderful? Doesn’t it make you feel really good when you give and you get recognized for your altruistic behavior?

Artwork by Sheridan Cowardin

Artwork by Sheridan Cowardin

So why does Jesus teach us in Matthew, that “when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets,” but rather “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret”?

In its purest form, anonymous giving is good for the spirit as the lack of recognition frees the giver from the need for payback.  Taking the focus off the giver and putting it fully on the recipient also puts the focus on the cause.

Giving anonymously fits with our faith and beliefs. Giving becomes an act of worship. It lessens your importance because going nameless takes you off the donors list and keeps you from using your ego to build your spiritual status. You get the privilege of knowing you are valued for who you are and not what you give.

Is it always wrong for others to know you’ve given? No, giving either publicly or privately isn’t a black or white issue. We read in Act 2 where Christians give of themselves to the needy. Charity “out loud” isn’t all bad but Jesus did say: “when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets.” In modern terms this means drop your check in the offering without coughing loudly; send your gift in the mail without drawing attention to yourself.  Do it to love and serve others, not because you want to impress or to show what a good person you are.

If you give to receive praise and adulation, you chance missing out on God’s much more important rewards – the building of your character, outwitting your ego and drawing closer to the One who made us.