27 January 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 6:1-4 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
1 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (Matthew 6:1–4 NLT)
Watch Out! Jesus thinks this is really important and we should too! It’s a very real danger for us to drift into wrongly motivated giving (or wrongly motivated anything, for that matter!). So let’s be clear on this. Jesus is affirming that giving to others in need is a good and right thing to do. Jesus makes it clear that the motive is as important as the giving itself. The why is as important as the what!
Jesus warns his hearers, and us, not to be motivated to give to those in need by the Desire to be Admired! Here are some other wrong motives for giving: Desire to control, Attempting to assuage guilt, Attempting to manipulate God. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think you get my point. Living and working in developing countries in the 80’s and 90’s, Jean and I saw ministries coming in, unloading a container of supplies, making videos of their “work”, and then disappearing from the scene. Of course their videos played well back home and brought them thousands of dollars of donations that the people in need never saw.
Jesus is clear on this: It’s a matter of the heart! Your motive in giving creates its own reward. If it’s to be admired, enjoy the admiration, because that’s all you get! If it’s to exercise control over the needy, God’s not going to reward that, so better enjoy being the “Big Shot!” Jesus is not saying don’t report your giving and receive a tax deduction. Jesus is saying don’t give merely to get a tax deduction! Give simply and expect a reward! But remember that your motive determines the reward!
If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and he will repay you! (Proverbs 19:17 NLT)
Father, May my heart become like your heart, compassionate and generous. And may my giving be from motives as pure as Grace and Mercy can make them! Amen!