Okay…..I’ll probably get hate comments for this because (A) someone does it all the time and doesn’t see anything wrong with it, or (B) someone will misinterpret what I’m saying and think I’m speaking out against being merciful and showing kindness to those in need. But, I will, to the best of my ability, try to communicate the best way I can so that there is no misunderstanding.
I see posts on Facebook frequently where people will post their “good deed” of the day for everyone to see. Whether it’s helping out someone who’s broken down on the side of the road, or someone paying the electricity bill for their elderly neighbor, or buying someone’s dinner because there wasn’t enough money to pay for it. First….let me say this right now so there is no misunderstanding….there is NOTHING WRONG with showing mercy and kindness to someone in need. The Bible talks about “doing unto the least of these” and as Christians, we should be the MOST GIVING and MOST HELPFUL people out there. But here is the thing that bothers me. Matthew 6:1-4 says:
“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 synagogue 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 no 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.”
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were famous for showing how “giving” and “merciful” they were, not because that was part of their character, but because they wanted to be praised by the people. They liked it when people patted them on the back for their generosity and so to get their egos stoked, they would publicize their “good deeds” just to have people say “what a good person they were”.
Now in this day and age, we have Facebook where people can post the pictures of the evidence of their “good deeds” and then their friends start posting “Oh, what a good person you are!” or “Thank you for your generosity!” or “God bless you for your kindness!” or “We need more people like you in this world!” Jesus wants our generosity to be done in secret. Why? Because He knows we are prideful people and we like being patted on the back when we do something good.
I get it. I understand. We’re living in a time when people are self-centered and egotistical and selfish, and it’s so nice to hear about how someone did something nice for another human being and we LOVE to hear those stories. I enjoy reading about how someone was helped by another person in their time of need and desperation. But, Christ said that as far as we’re concerned, our giving should be kept secret. And, there are times when that is not possible, especially if it’s in a public setting. It’s one thing when there are 4 or 5 people there at that precise moment to witness it, but it’s a whole other matter when you go home and post it on Facebook and say, “See what I did today?”
We need to learn to practice humility and not be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who proclaimed “Look at what I did!” The only ones who should know are us as individuals, the people who were helped, and God Himself. God blesses us and we should bless others with what He’s given to us. But, our generosity should never be publicized, at least not by us. If the people we help choose to make it known, that’s their decision, but if that were to happen, we should deflect the attention off of us and just give credit where credit is due, and that’s to God.