“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But, when you give to the poor, don’t 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.”
Jesus was blunt and clear when he made these statements to the disciples. When we give to God’s work, we’re not supposed to do it for recognition. We’re supposed to give in secret so we can be rewarded by God in heaven. These are clear and simple statements, and as I have been the recipient of secret giving on more than one occasion, it is clear that this is an important practice to God. I had some questions though about how giving relates to the human need for recognition and value which I’m going to address in this post.
God created in all of us the need to feel valued. There’s nothing wrong or inherently evil with that desire. It’s what we do with it that’s evil. It’s what the Pharisees were doing with it that Jesus was addressing. Parading in front of others and saying, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at what I’m doing in God’s name!” is what is wrong, and it’s what the Pharisees were doing. Jesus was telling His disciples that there was a better way and that they needed to value what God thought about them above everything or everyone else.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this should not be the case. What God thinks about what I do is always first and foremost in my mind! What about this need for recognition though? This need to feel valued? Before evil got a hold of it, it was good like everything else God has created. And we all have this desire. Even I, an introvert, have a need to feel recognized, to feel valued.
The answer, I believe, can be found in another desire God has created in us. And that desire is the desire for community. Especially a community of like-minded believers to walk through life with. The next question we should ask then is how do these two desires fit together. The desire to feel valued in what we do for God versus the desire for community. It comes from all of us valuing each other. In my belief, it comes down to all of us taking the time to say thank you, to say I love you, to say you have value in God’s kingdom. We shouldn’t just say this to people of influence either. As an example, in the church, we shouldn’t just say thank you to the pastor. We should say thank you to the person who fixes the coffee. We shouldn’t just thank the worship leader and worship team. We should thank the sound team in the back. We shouldn’t just thank the elders. We should thank the people who clean the toilets. I could go on with examples, but I think you get the idea.
If we, as a Christian community, could do this for all of the people around us, just imagine how much we could change our world in Jesus’ name.
God’s blessings on you today!