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.
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 honoured by others. Truly I tell you, 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.
Matthew 6 : 2 – 4
So much of what Jesus says in this famous sermon speaks about motive and intention, not just our actions. At the end of the day, does it matter who knows what we do, as long as the people who need help get it?
Does it make a difference to those we are helping? What do we think about all the companies whose current advertising campaigns are based on telling us what goods or services they are donating to key workers during the current crisis? There is no doubt that they are gaining much from the publicity and good will that they’ve generated. What is their motivation? Do you think our health workers feel really valued by those companies, or, while appreciative of the assistance, might they feel a bit like fodder for a marketing campaign? If we serve others as a demonstration of God’s love, seeking credit makes it about ourselves, rather than either God or the person we are helping. Seeking credit for what we do diminishes the loving nature of the gift.
Compare that with receiving help which respects your privacy and dignity, and in a way that does not create a sense of indebtedness to the giver. Compare that with those who put their lives at risk to support friends, family, neighbours, and often strangers.
Now think about what happens when we act in God’s name. Do we present God’s love as a marketing strategy for church, or as an act of compassion which raises a person up with love?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, that you see every act of kindness we perform, whether it is noticed by others or not. Help us be content to have our reward from you, trusting that it will be richer and more wonderful than we can imagine.
Action: When next you help someone, take time to think about how you do it. Is it making them feel more valued, or you?