“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
Think about the last time you gave something to someone. Didn’t it feel good after you practiced some sort of generosity? Whether it’s simply buying someone a meal, or donating a larger sum to meet a greater need, we all feel something light up inside of us when we give. Deep down, we all have a propensity to be generous, but there is a tension that comes with that desire. We want to be recognized by others for our generosity.
If we’re not careful, we can let this craving for attention and recognition be the sole motivation for our giving. But as followers of Jesus, we must do our best to remember the real reason we should be generous. Our giving should come not from a desire for human affirmation, but rather it should come from us wanting to honor our Heavenly Father. And one way we can honor Him is to emulate His character.
Take, for example, John 3:16. It’s one of the most famous verses in Scripture, but be careful not to miss what this verse tells us about the character of God. It says, “For God so loved the world, he gave…” From the very beginning, our God has been a god of generosity. As His followers, we should be striving to give as He did — out of love, not out of our want for recognition.
So my encouragement to you today is to be generous, but do so in a way that you can’t receive any praise for it. Buy the coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Leave an anonymous gift on your coworker’s desk. Whatever you choose to do, I can promise you the Lord will see your generosity, even if no one else does, and He will honor you for it.