This morning, I stumbled upon a passage of Scripture that caused me to reflect on how I give of my time, talents, and treasures. The passage comes from Matthew 6:2-4. The Message paraphrase puts it this way,
When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Living in a world that tends to place too much importance on status and recognition, this passage of Scripture should cause us to re-think how we give.
I once served a church where a member went out of his way to make sure the senior pastor knew he was in church and giving his “tithe”. How did he do this? Well, instead of putting his envelope in the offering plate, he handed it directly to the senior pastor. This wasn’t just an occasional “oh, I forgot to put this in the plate” sort of thing. This was an “every time the guy was a church” sort of thing. And why? My guess is because he longed for the pastor to recognize him and say, “thank you”.
We live in a world where people shell out serious cash to have their names placed on a stadium, arena, or building of higher education. It used to be that the naming of a building was to honor a person…now the naming of a building goes to the highest bidder. And why? For the recognition? For the status that comes with having a building with your name on it?
This passage tells us to forget about the recognition. This passage tells us to forget about the status. This passage tells us to give…simply to give. This passage tells us to give…when no one is watching. This passage tells us to give…and not draw attention to ourselves.
And, this is difficult…because I know for myself that when I do something for someone in need, I want to tell others and pat myself on the back…I want people to say, “wow, how selfless!” But, that is not what giving is about. Giving is about responding to the needs of those around us in practical and tangible ways without expecting anything in return.
So, the challenge is to look for opportunities to give…when no one is looking…with no expectations of a “thank you” or other recognition…with no strings attached…simply to give when you see a need…to give because that is what we’re called to do.