“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.2 “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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:1-5
I’m encouraged by stories of people giving to their communities. Tyler Perry, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, just to name a few. None of the readers of this blog, few in number most likely, have that kind of money. How do you feel when you hear of other Average Joe’s loving people in this time? How do we apply Jesus warnings to OURSELVES?
First of all, it is our job to be aware of our own motives, not the motives of others (though we can certainly ask the question). Jesus warns us to be aware of “practicing your righteousness in order of being seen,” and he knows the exact motivation of the group in question here. We don’t have the luxury of knowing the thoughts of others. But in another passage, Jesus also calls us to let our good deeds be seen before others so that they may give glory to God.
So should we share or not share? What’s the difference? Motivation. Two of the same deeds done by two different people can have completely different motivations. So it is our job to check why we want to share anything good that we’re doing, with others.
1.) Sharing is caring. What you’re doing can be a wonderful encouragement for others to jump in. If your motivation is not to gain favor from God or others, but to give because you already have favor from God through Christ, then share away. I think that there is much that we can do during this time, but really don’t know how or what to do. Sometimes we just need ideas.
2.) Sharing can’t lead to comparing. In a discussion with some good friends, I confessed that I often feel stressed out when I see others sharing good because I’m comparing myself with them. The problem isn’t in their sharing, it is in me. I take the good they do, and compare myself with them. Am I doing enough, either in quantity of quality? But we all have different gifts (and time for that matter). I can’t make things. Sometimes I can catch fish to share, and sometimes I can’t. Some folks have made masks, made resources known, baked and brought meals, grocery shopped, taught others new technology, shared devotionals online, lead zoom groups, communicated well with others, etc….
When others share, be encouraged. God is at work through people in this mess. His image in humanity is on display. But don’t compare yourself to others. You are free to love differently than others, and don’t need to keep up with the Jones’ generosity or creativity. One of my friends shared with me, “Social distancing IS loving your neighbor.”
Let’s be encouraged, creative, and resourceful. But the moment you feel stressed, or less of a Christian, or less of a neighbor, teacher, parent, just relax. Jesus wasn’t just the best neighbor, he was the best neighbor FOR the Christian. Therefore we can relax, recognize unique opportunities, and enter into them without the burden of comparison. His yoke is easy and burden is light my friends.