(This was a post I wrote for onemoneydesign.com)
Among the many instructions the Bible has for our giving, it calls for us to keep our giving “secret”. Jesus plainly told us to give in this manner:
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matt 6:2-4, NASB)
The call for secret giving is unavoidable. The reasoning behind such a command can be a little less obvious. I have tried to come up with what I believe are some sound rationales for a Christian to not let his left hand know what his right is doing.
1. Keeps us from giving for the praise of others. This idea is plainly stated by Christ. Often, we are tempted to give because of how it will other people think of us. We want people to see us as generous, compassionate, and charitable. In this senario, we give not for the benefit of those receiving our contribution, but for our own benefit–selfish giving, if you will. It’s counter-productive. Giving in secret prevents this backwards motivation.
2. Allows giving to bring praise to God. In essence, this is the flip side of the previous point. When we choose to give secretly, our contributions bring praise and glory to God, not ourselves. He gets the credit when we give in a way that only He can be credited. We simply all ow the glory to fall where it ought when we give in secret.
3. Prevents self-righteousness. Not only do unsecretive contributions attempt to boost other people’s opinions of us, they also do a lot to inflate our own thoughts of self. This is why Jesus not only instructs us to keep our giving secret from others, but also to keep it a secret from ourselves. When we give generously, our flesh has a way of twisting our generosity in our own self-righteous favor. We no longer give because of how great God’s generosity has transformed and controlled our hearts, but because of how great we esteem ourselves. Not letting our left hand know what our right is doing, keeps this from happening.
4. Brings attention to the corporate not individual. I have already discussed the negative effects of giving for show, but giving secretly also brings glory to God corporately. When the world says that “John” or “Susan” is generous, John and Susan are honored. When the world says that “Christians” are generous, God is glorified. The church, as the body of Christ, brings glory to God.
5. Keeps the focus on others. When we give for our own acclaim, we care little for those to whom we are giving (after all, we are motivated by our own gain not theirs). This is hardly the call of biblical generosity. When we give in secret, our attention is focused on the benefit of the recipient. In this, we see true compassion in contribution.
Certainly there are more, but I think this post gets the ball rolling in the right direction. When we give secretly, we do what is best for ourselves and what is best for God’s kingdom. Jesus said that God is watching our contributions. Those who give in secret will be rewarded by God who sees in secret. Let us not miss out on the reward of the Father to gain the praise of men!