Matthew 6:1-4 KJV
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory ofmen. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Let’s face it. We all like people to know what acts we do for others. WordPress is full of such instances. We love to read stories of heroic acts, good deeds and exploits that help other people. We also like to write about the things we do because it makes for good reading and it makes us feel good. It also brings nice comments from those who read our blogs. I for one certainly do not want to see you stop posting these wonderful stories.
Jesus tells us at the beginning of Chapter 6 that we should not tell others of our good deeds, called alms in the KJV. These acts of mercy are not supposed to be done for the eyes of men. Jesus equates this to the hypocrites of His time who did their good deeds in the synagogues and streets. They actually sounded trumpets before they accomplished their acts of mercy so that men would exalt them. One can only surmise that Jesus was talking about the Scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees but He does not mention them by name.
So what is the difference between the good deeds that are mentioned in the first paragraph and those mentioned in the second paragraph? There are two distinct differences that I see. First, the writers of blogs on WordPress do not tell us what they are going to do by trumpeting the merciful act before they accomplish it. The ones I read tell about the act after it has been done. This way they are not drawing attention to the fact they are going to do something. Second, the blog writer always turns their story back to glorifying God and teaching us something about His ways. The hypocrite of the second paragraph does his acts to bring himself glory. This leads to pride, which is one of the things God hates (Prov 6:16-17)
Jesus tells us that the man in the second paragraph has received any reward he might get here on this earth. He received the praises of men. That is his reward. Maybe he even gained financial means through his good deeds. Maybe other things came his way because he helped people and told others about his merciful ways. Whatever the case, they have received their reward.
Then Jesus makes an interesting statement. He tells us not to let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. How can I do that? After all, both hands are controlled by the same brain, so it is next to impossible for one hand to ignore what the other is doing. The idea here is that we should forget the good deeds we do after we do them. This will prevent us from bragging about them afterward. No one needs to know what we did for our neighbor, or who we support with our tithes, or what foods things we have done for our church. Our left hand doesn’t even need to know! When we keep this things in secret, the Father is glorified and we will receive our reward from Him.
What kinds of rewards will these be? I believe these rewards can range from financial blessings to good health to peace and joy. God can give us anything we need and He will give it to us in His time. When we do things that glorify Him, He does things that help us grow in our relationship with Him and with others. He always knows exactly what we need. Why would we ever want to boast about our good deeds and receive our rewards from men? It is very reminiscent of the Pharisees who would not acknowledge Jesus because “they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God (John 12:43). Wouldn’t your much rather receive what God has in store for you when you glorify Him?
To those who blog about their good deeds, please don’t stop. It is very obvious that your intent is not to draw glory to yourself, but to give the glory to God. We are all blessed by your wonderful stories and how you relate them so poignantly. Your wonderful words fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving. I for one can remember times that I was brought to tears by the unselfish compassion you showed, and how you bring God the glory. Keep it up! As long as your motive is not to bring yourself glory you are doing the will of the Father, and that is always a good thing.
The silent mercies we do need to remain silent, both in our own minds and in the minds of others. There is no reason to talk about these merciful acts unless our intention is for God to be glorified. There is no reason to bring it back up to the recipient again. That person knows you have shown them mercy. It is not something you hold over their head to make them feel indebted to you. We are to put them behind us and move on. Do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing, or has done. It is finished and it is time to move on in pursuit of Christ (Philippians 3:11-12)
I know someone who fits the second paragraph. He is always telling other people about gifts he is going to give them or someone else ahead of the fact. I would call this the trumpeting part. Then after the deed is done, he tells people that it was accomplished and wants to receive praise from them. I know this because I am one of the one he tells. He also keeps bringing up the good things he has done for me and others. It’s almost like he wants to receive our praise again, or like we now owe him something. I often want to tell him how wrong this is but am reluctant to because I do not want to hurt our friendship. And I know how stubborn he can be to others advice. Do you know anyone like this? Did you confront them, and if you did how did you handle it? I would really like to know.
May Christ be Exalted