It’s the most wonderful time of the year! If the days leading up to Christmas, we are given many opportunities to give to charitable causes and are often quite willing to do so. We love the warm fuzzies generosity brings. But unfortunately, we tend to love the attention it brings as well.
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.
When we are giving, we should evaluate why we are giving.
Are we giving for the attention of others? In the social media age we live in, it is extremely popular to post about our generosity. We upload pictures of the gifts we bought for the less fortunate, videos of giving to the homeless, and posts of time volunteered at soup kitchens. We want others to know just how kind and charitable we are. “Look at me! I’m a really great person,” is the cry of these public good deeds. While receiving the praises of others, we remove the potential for rewards from God in this area of life.
Are we giving for ourselves? Yes, the bible does say, “it is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35) I do believe God gave us that “warm fuzzy” feeling that often goes with giving, but if we give based solely on this feeling, we are giving to pat ourselves on the back. While we may be giving, it is still out of selfish motives and perhaps not to the depth that God may call us to give. The feel good vibe we rely on when giving in this way will also be the extent of our reward.
Are we giving because it is what God calls us to do? Not all giving gets the notice of others. Not all giving feels good. God will often call us to do good deeds in the dark. We may have to give to a point that is painful to our selfish nature.
I believe when Jesus said to give without let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, he meant that we should live in such a state of generosity that we give without a second thought to the cost or the attention received. I don’t mean we should go into debt in our giving; that is not wise and much of the book of Proverbs speaks against this. But an attitude of generosity can cost us more than paper money. It can cost us time, energy, and other resources. This attitude will not come naturally to us. Though the longer we stay and grow in the presence of God, the deeper root it will take in our lives. While the first few times God calls us to a higher level of generosity will be unnatural and likely painful, the more we practice it, the more it will become second nature to us.
Though this attitude of generosity will become second nature, there will be times it hurts that no one seems to notice the sacrifices you are making. But take heart, God notices. Our heavenly Father is omnipresent: he is everywhere. God doesn’t have a Facebook, but he likes what you’re doing. We could settle for the praises of our peers, or we could wait on our reward from God.
This Christmas season, I hope you are able to see how deeply blessed you are and are able to give out of that blessing whether it’s through monetary donations, acts of service, or simply being kind to others in a chaotic world. Yet in that, I hope you are also able to examine your motives. Who are you giving for? If it is for anyone less than our creator and savior, is it worth it?