Saturday, March 18  “So when you give to the needy . . .”

Scripture: Matthew 6:1-4

1 “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.

2 “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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Some thoughts:

In addition to prayer and fasting, there is this business of “almsgiving” or “giving to the poor.” Here again, we see this word “when” as Jesus directs our attention to giving to the needy. The assumption is that followers of Christ will give to those in need as a normal part of living out their faith. In this passage Jesus is addressing the heart’s attitude like he did previously with prayer and fasting.

To the Jews of Jesus’ day, almsgiving was viewed as the most sacred of all the religious duties. So, Jesus makes very clear that we are to resist the temptation to announce our generosity to others. The Pharisees had that problem. Jesus’ words are aimed at correcting the common perspective of his day. God alone sees our heart motivation and attitude. We are giving not to be noticed or with an eye out to what others have given. What we do, we are to do quietly. That’s what it means by not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing. One rabbi commented that it is best to drop your money behind you then you will not know who picked it up and the person will not know who gave it.

We are to give with humility. God loves the humble, but he resists the proud. There is great difference between social and spiritual significance. What is given may look the same on the outside, but when faith and love for the Lord is the motivator in the giving, the result has eternal consequences for the giver and brings glory to God. Once again, heaven and earth are tied together in daily living through a simple act of giving.

Music: “Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service”   -Albert Bayly, 1961     St.George and St. Michael Episcopal

Prayer: Take, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With his I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.                                –Ignatius Loyola 1491-1556