Jesus Teaches about Giving to the Needy 3030 Challenge #Day 9
Giving to the Needy
Giving to the needy is something everyone wants or wishes to do at some point in their lives (I think). Giving is a good thing. But we have a lot of people now as in the days of Jesus who do it as a public show or to earn some praise or respect from others. In this study, Jesus gives us a guiding principle to live by if we must give or do any act of righteousness.
“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.
God wants us to follow him, not only with our behavior, but also with our heart.
He says there’s something we need to watch: our motive. When you do good things—“acts of righteousness”—make sure that you’re doing it for God and not just to put on a show for the people around you. In our day, just like in Jesus’ day, there are people who do good religious things, not because they are devoted to God, but because they are interested in looking good in front of their fellow human beings.
How can I look like a good guy to my neighbors or friends? Some people go to church. Some give to the poor. Some say their prayers. Some give up a bad habit for lent. Sometimes people are motivated to do these things because they want to impress God. Sometimes they do them also hoping that someone else—someone human—will notice what a great person they are. Maybe they’re trying to impress their pastor, or their fiancé, or their friends, or their parents, or their children. Religious stuff looks good on a resume. Everybody ought to have some.
But Jesus says that if you’re involved in a lot of religious activity just to show people how devoted you are to God, then it doesn’t mean anything to God. That’s not what it’s about. Don’t do good things so that people will see you doing good and think that you’re a great person.
So the general principle that Jesus is trying to teach us is this:
If you perform religious acts
to impress other people
then you’ll miss God’s reward.
If your motive for going to church, or doing some good deed, or helping the poor, or praying to God or performing some religious duty—if you’re doing those things to impress the people around you—then it doesn’t mean anything to God.
:2 “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.
- Action: It is publicized giving (tooting your own horn).
- Motive: It is done for man’s praise.
- Result: The reward is paid in full. You receive human praise.
The term hypocrite, as used here, describes people who do good acts for appearances only– not out of compassion or other good motives. Their actions may be good, but their motives are hollow. These empty acts are their only reward, but God will reward those who are sincere in their faith.
But Jesus gives us a contrast Jesus tells us how we should give:
:3, 4 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.
This phrase “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” essentially means “Don’t even tell your best friend.” Jesus says that the cure for hypocritical giving is to keep it a secret. Keep it confidential. Don’t make news about it.
I don’t think this is saying that all our giving should be done in secret. He’s not saying that only secret giving honors God. He’s saying that if you’re tempted to give for the wrong motives, if you might be tempted to give so you’ll look good in front of other people, then you can remove that temptation by doing all your giving in secret.
Jesus is not saying that you have done wrong if people know about your gift. He’s not saying it’s wrong if people are impressed by your gift. What he’s saying is that it is wrong to give for the purpose of impressing people. It’s not an issue of who knows about it or what they think about it. It’s all about your motive. Why did you do it? For people? Or for God?
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
God always reward His people. Reward literally means: “to pay back a debt” So, if you give with a clear motive, out of compassion, out of your love love and devotion to God, then God owes you. God owes you? that sounds like contrasting “God does not owe any man”. Well God doesn’t owe any man because He always pay back His debt by rewarding those who serve Him.
Proverbs 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.
Giving to the poor is compared to loaning money to God.
Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 9:6, 11 that God will meet generosity with generosity.
Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. …  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.
And he gives this promise in Philippians 4:18-19
I have received the gifts you sent. …  And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
There is a reward for those who give to people in need. It may be more money. It may not. It may be repayment. It may be recognition. It may be now. It may be later. The one who gives to the needy will be rewarded. But that reward is only for those who give with a pure motive.
It is easier to do whats right when we gain recognition and praise. We crumble when we don’t receive praises or recognition for things we do, when we are not appreciated by the people we help or for serving in the Church. But lets try a little trick that works: Let try taking our self out of the picture. Let our acts be less self-centered and more God-centered. Trying doing something without expecting anything in return. Out of your devotion and love to God.
Are you giving?
Why are you giving?