GIVING IN SECRET

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.

Advertisements

CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUALISM

One of the problems these days in Christianity is that it has been reduced to just an “emotional” experience.  Emotions change from one day, one hour, or one minute to the next.  That’s why you see so many people making professions of faith during emotional worship services and why many of those people don’t come back to church.  They made a decision based on emotion, not because the Holy Spirit opened up their mind and heart to the truth of God’s Word and they repented.  But churches these days are all about using emotionally stirring music and drama and other gimmicks to coerce people into making a “decision” for Christ instead of just teaching the Word as it should be taught and letting the Holy Spirit do His work through sound preaching/teaching.  They put more confidence in the emotional gimmicks than they do the actual Word of God.

Used to be, Christians were some of the most intellectual folks on the planet.  Preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Harvard (for whom Harvard University is named), Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, to name a few, were VERY intelligent and well studied in theology.  Jonathan Edwards began attending Yale at age 13 and became president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).  John Harvard was a huge proponent of education and not only gave half of his inheritance to help start Harvard University, but he also donated his entire collection of writings to the school.  C.H. Spurgeon started his own seminary that is still going to this day in London, England, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor before he entered into the ministry.  I have no doubt that these men made sure that their congregants were just as well versed in theology as they were.

Sadly, over the last century or two, emotionalism has taken over intellectualism.  Have a pastor bring up the word “theology” and you’d think he was demon possessed because people will run away in fear.  Some even just down right despise the notion that they should learn theology.  They say, “Oh, heart knowledge of God is more important than head knowledge.”  I disagree.  First of all, you have to know what “theology” is.  “Theos” means God and “logos” means “the study of”.  So, theology is “the study of God”.  I propose to you that gaining the intellectual knowledge of God FIRST is more important because how can you have the proper emotional response to Him if you don’t know ABOUT Him?  The Bible says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  If studying theology wasn’t important, I don’t think Jesus would have included the word “mind” in that verse.

I’m thankful that there are still some INTELLECTUAL pastors out there who put their confidence in the sound preaching of the Word instead of using ridiculous emotional gimmicks to “seduce” people into making a false profession of faith.  Unfortunately, there are false converts out there walking around basing their faith on an emotional experience instead of being drawn to Christ through sound biblical preaching.