Charitable Deeds. As we continue our series of devotions on Words of Christ, our Lord encourages us, in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 6, to do good to others.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be
seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before
you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that
they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their
reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Matthew 6:1-4, NKJV
Charity! The word has a pleasant ring, does it not? What comes to your mind when you think of charity? Perhaps you think of a free hand-out, or maybe you think of a good or kind deed. Maybe the very thought of charity, or charitable deeds makes you uncomfortable. You have had to work hard for everything you have, and you certainly are not comfortable giving it to people who do nothing to earn it Rather, it may seem that they are too eager to take the little you possess away from you.
As Jesus spoke these words, surely He sensed a mixed reaction from the people. In His day, often the poor seemed to line the streets with their hands out. The religious leaders of the day made a great show of giving to the poor, waiting until many people were milling about, observing their generosity to the poor. Despising their arrogance and selfish hearts, Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven."
Jesus was going beyond the deed itself and getting to the heart of the matter. Why are we, as believers in Christ, called to give to the poor? And, when we give, why are we to do so in secret, even to the point of our left hand not even knowing what our right hand is doing? Are we only seeking a reward from God, the Father?
Jesus was pointing out a basic principle that we would do well to remember. We do not own or possess a single thing! Everything we have--even everything we have worked hard to obtain--is a gift from God, Himself!
Have we spent hours at a job, just to earn the things we have? How, then, is that a gift from God? Who gives us the strength, health, and power to accomplish the things we do? Who gives us the intelligence needed to perform our daily duties? Is not everything we are, including all of our strengths and abilities, a gift from our Creator God?
How foolishly we tend to take pride in things that are God-given talents or abilities. Those talents or abilities do not make us any better than our neighbor. How foolishly we tend to think better of ourselves if we have been destined to riches. Perhaps we have been born into a wealthy family, but does that really make us any better than our servants?
This is exactly the point Jesus was making, and the people knew exactly what He was saying. That is why so many took offense at Jesus' words. What of us? Are these principles offensive to us as well?
Being a Christian is so much more than just making a decision to accept Christ as our Savior! Being a Christian involves a complete change of values and attitudes. Understanding that we are nothing before a righteous and holy God helps us to understand our true state. Nothing we are, and nothing we have is of any value apart from Christ. But, with Christ, we have everything; our relationship to Him is of more value than all of the silver and gold in this entire universe.
Why should we, as true believers, be generous with our charitable deeds? Why should we do our charitable deeds in secret--even to the point that our right hand does not know what our left hand is doing? We, as children of God, owe everything we have and are to Christ. None of the things we give to others is ours in the first place. By giving to those in need, we show that Christ is truly in our hearts, for by giving to others, we are, in a sense, throwing all we own at the feet of Jesus, our wondrous and glorious Savior!
Go, then, and do your charitable deeds in secret that God the Father may reward you openly!