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The challenge of anonymous giving

December 6, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Service

Today’s Pulse is adapted from the October 20th, 2015 Pulse.


“Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)

In the spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, I want you to try an experiment this week: do something anonymously for another person. Give a gift, send a note, do an act of service, or find some other way of blessing another person. It could be a family member, a church member, a neighbor, or even a complete stranger. But here’s the catch: don’t tell anyone that you did it – not even your closest friend or family member.

After you do this experiment, pay attention to what is going on in your heart. If you are anything like me, you will have a hard time remaining anonymous. You may have to fight the urge to let someone know what you did. I know that when I give or serve others, I find within myself a desire to be noticed, to be praised, to receive glory for every act of kindness. Think about it – how do you feel when you do something nice, something sacrificial, for another person, and they do not acknowledge what you have done, let alone give you the thanks and praise you feel you deserve?

If you experience any of the same emotions I do, then let Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 serve as a warning. In the end, whose praise are you really seeking? Are you loving and serving others because you want to bring honor to Christ? Or because you want to be seen by others as a good and loving person? When you are not recognized for your service, how do you feel? If you notice within yourself a craving for recognition and appreciation, then perhaps your motives are not as pure as you think they are. Maybe deep down you don’t believe that the praise and reward that come from God is better than the fleeting adulation of other people.

The heart of the matter, as always, is to believe the gospel more fully and to find your identity in being a beloved child of God. The more you understand that you are a sinner saved by grace, who has been given what you do not deserve, the more your heart becomes inclined to give – not so that others might praise you, but simply because you have received so much from God and want to love others as He has loved you. The motivation of your heart becomes gratitude to God, not proving your self-worth. And the audience you seek to please becomes Him, not the rest of the world.

So go and give generously, serve freely, and bless liberally – not so that you might make a name for yourself among men and women, but so that you might be a son or daughter of your generous Father in heaven.

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