I make a living with some awareness of a social environment and what makes people tick. One incentive that goes into what motivates actions of individuals will always be making sure they are liked. In fact, one of the tops things people say is looked for by women towards the men in their lives is kindness. So if that were to get out as more common knowledge there would be one more reason for single ladies to process a kind act as wondering if it was sincere are that of a suitor for her affections (to put it politely). Really, one could wonder a lot if someone kind acts are really without agenda and can be sure only if you “catch them in the act” in that you see them doing right and they had no way of knowing that they were a “suspect” of being a true giver.
But there is one person that has been proposed to catch such people in the act of unquestionable kindness: God. Jesus decided one day on a mountain speech, with those who were intent in being His followers, to juxtapose giving in holiness versus giving for recognition.
“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).
Jesus here speaks a mouthful in that again truth is spoken to those in positions of religious power who have overall lost track of the most basic traits of what the kingdom of God is supposed to be like. The loud and proud givers among them have combined a pride of place to their religious oligarchy with themselves as individuals. Their show describe by Jesus is all about bragging to the world that they are kind and powerful with the grace to bequeath alms to the commoners.
Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. —-It is implied by such a show that the receivers and their witnesses will see them with some special point of recognition. Jesus congratulates them with a backhanded compliment because their reward is limited.
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. —- What Jesus is getting to is how the right giving should be so pure that one does not even deliberate in their thoughts anything complicated and especially about their own identity. They just see a need and do not worry about the currency of public favor.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you— Ideally the one who is tied into living out the life of Jesus Christ is conscious enough about the presence of God in all they do so the hope of the right reward is always there. To do this is no small matter but to have an attitude of having a prayerful disposition when you go out to meet the world every day. That is to be in the world but not of it as if their opinion makes you rise or fall. From there one can be called religious and it would not be all about the show.
This sunk into the mindset of the Church. So much they about twenty or thirty years later a kinsman of Jesus said the following:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).
To give rightly? No agenda? No politics? So radical. Such a change in getting that stain out it could be called brainwashing. Speaking as one disciple of Jesus who is very much a work in progress, I hope so. And I pray that during this lenten season my heart would be awakened to God’s ongoing presence and His call to make a difference through my left and right hand.