Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?' This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.'
But Jesus said, 'Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.'
When people or companies show their charitable deeds, they receive public approval, and their gifts help others. As a result, new friends and customers may come their way. Even more, recorded donations may cut their taxes. For outsiders, this practice has visible benefits.
But as insiders, God gives us different instructions. Our charitable deeds are to remain anonymous. As a result, God's great rewards will surely come our way. If we don't publicize our giving, He'll do it for us. Plus, He promises to repay our earnest donations.*
But when churches make big shows of their charitable works, are they sounding loud trumpets before them, like Jesus said? How can we know when such giving is merely a sideline, while the main line is fattening their comfy lifestyles?
Consider Judas Iscariot, a phony good guy. Jesus put him in charge of their ministry's donations. While he made a show of helping others, he was a thief. He wanted a share of Mary's lavish gift to her Lord. Beneath his guilt trip was greed, and not a love of the poor.
For today's followers of Jesus, here's the bottom line: whatever resources we have, they're not ours anyway. We're just stewards, and good stewards follow their Lord's Commands. If we brag about giving what we do not own, we lie. If we give for any other reason than love, we lie. God doesn't reward liars.
'And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing' (1 Corinthians 13:3).
To Be Continued...
* 'One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed' (Proverbs 19:17).
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Poor People series.