“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
It’s good to help people. When we see someone in need, someone who is hurt, struggling, or in danger we should do what we can to help them be okay. But we want praise and affirmation for our good deeds. The problem is pride. Think of the person you know who always has to be the center of attention. Somehow any story or event has to relate in some way back to them. If you think this person is not you, you are just deceiving yourself. Apart from the grace of God we are stuck in a sinful, fallen state where we think higher of ourselves than we ought.
Upon reading this verse tonight I felt convicted of the pride in my own life. I seek to share about things I’ve done or said so that others will pay attention to me and give me honor and praise. As a Christian I should never seek to make my good works a public spectacle. Doing so is to elevate myself before others. This idolatry is a very big deal. Jesus condemns this act by saying that if you are arrogant and boastful because of doing good works, we are accepting human glory instead of the everlasting glory to be enjoyed at the end of the age. This is like saying, I’d rather get a toaster right now instead of waiting for a personal chef. It’s ridiculous and nonsensical but for some reason we all seem to want toast more than filet mignon.
Instead of this, Jesus instructs us on how to do hood the right way. He says to not let one hand know what the other is doing. At first I thought that this meant to do good secretly, but as I write this, I am impressed that Jesus is instructing us to be so intimate with him that he transforms our hearts and our motives so that we don’t even think about getting praise, but serving him. I pray that this would take root in my heart and in yours.