Reader: “When you give to the needy . . .”
Response: “do not announce it.”
Scripture: Matthew 6:1-4
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is 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 men. I tell you the truth, 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.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
We don’t need big words to say powerful things. These words of Jesus have four or fewer letters and most have a single syllable. He couldn’t be clearer. Ours is a faith that expresses itself in actions. Giving to the needy is one of those actions that is done not to buy God’s favor, make him love us more, or earn salvation. We are not graded by God based solely on what we do. God doesn’t give grades on how we live. If he did, we all fail. Jesus passed every test, and as we trust in him, so do we. We “give to the needy” to live out a love relationship with our heavenly Father. Giving to those in need is what we do as Christians in expressing our love. Jesus was clear. He didn’t say “if you give to the needy”, but rather “when you give to the needy.” Giving is one of the three primary themes of Lent along with fasting and praying. Have you noticed that is exactly what Jesus did his whole life? He fasted regularly; he prayed often; he gave continually to all, especially to those in need. And we are the “needy” who benefit. So our question is how and when do we give to the needy? Are you giving to those in need now? Maybe adopt a World Vision child. Give above a tithe. Put together a “Grace Bag” for your car. In the bag you might have a toothbrush and toothpaste, a little bottle of shampoo, a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of water, a bar of soap, some baby wipes, a can of beans with a pop top and plastic spoon. Then when you see a homeless person, you’ll have something practical you can give to one in need. There is so much more we can do. Another thought, do you know someone who is having a tough time making financial ends meet right now? Send them a gift card to a store, or send them some cash anonymously. Does someone just need to be listened to? Expand your “alms” thinking. Ask the Lord to bring to mind someone you can encourage and give to in a practical way. It’s living the life of Jesus.
Music: “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” Simon Khorolskiy DO NOT miss this!
Lord Jesus, our Sustainer and Provider, help us to be your hands and feet to those in need. You have given to us so lavishly in so many varied ways. Tune our hearts to your own generous heart that we may more and more see as you see and do something about it. May the gradual transformation of our being into your likeness lead to the transformation of our doing. Thank you for coming to us in our great need. You are our only hope and salvation. May we bring hope, the hope found in you, to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ―Daniel Sharp