Last week we looked at the loud and ostentatious way in which the High priests and religious leaders of Jesus’ time liked to give their offerings. We looked at the fact that Jesus was saying ‘when’ you give and not ‘if’. It was the manner in which they were giving that Jesus was addressing and what the motivation of their hearts was.
Jesus has already dealt previously with the subject of money and how it can hold us in its grip. Do we control it or do we let it control us? That is the initial question, but there is still a subsequent issue to consider; when we give it away, who do we want to get the glory? Put simply like that, it should be obvious, but motivations are never that simple and can sometimes take us by surprise.
The fact is, we instinctively like to receive the credit when we have done something good or noteworthy. We want to be recognised and thanked. We naturally don’t want to be anonymous. Giving in secret is very counter-cultural; the way the world gives is usually very egotistical. Just watch the fanfare surrounded by certain televised charity events such as comic or sport relief. I understand that money needs to be collected for worthwhile causes but it always seems to me to be a little showy and extravagant.
The attitude of doing things in secret crosses over into every part of the Christian life. We don’t advertise how much we give just as much as how much we; pray, fast, serve or do good works. Our motivation and goal is to do everything for an audience of one. So that even when people misrepresent us, we know that God knows and what other people think, increasingly doesn’t matter.
I believe that what Jesus is getting at when he says that our left hand shouldn’t know what our right hand is doing is about not even telling ourselves what we are doing. What I mean by this is we don’t even dwell in our thoughts about how good we have just been. Our self-consciousness can very quickly become our self-righteousness. This sort of attitude can only come from maturity, from a heart that only wants to do what pleases God. So when you are next tempted to tell others about what you have just done, whisper a quick prayer and say to God “Let that be our little secret!”