“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 openly.” Matthew 6:1-4
In the above scripture text, Jesus is teaching the multitude that sat before him. He is concerned with the way people are being consumed with announcing every good deed they would do for those in need. The focus was not to take care of those in need but to gain recognition and acknowledgment from their esteemed peers. In one translation, Jesus used the term hypocrite. A hypocrite originally was an actor who wore a mask in a Greek play, thereby pretending he was something he was not (they were always males). He told the people not to be like the hypocrite but to be humble and not tell others what they were doing for those in need. But allow God to reward them for their good deeds.
I believe the lesson is applicable today, even if one is not of the Christian Faith. In a society where every action and a good deed is on social media for likes and acknowledgment, we too can be consumed in desiring the praise and acceptance of others. Instead, we must take an internal inventory of why we are doing what we are doing. Are we sharing the information to gain support and encourage others to help those in need? Or are we sharing to receive our reward from others and not God?
I, too, struggle with ensuring my heart is in the right place when doing for others and that I am not doing something to receive praise from my peers. Instead, my actions and gifts come from a place of genuine sincerity of wanting to do “what is right.” Being authentic and humble is still popular in a world that can sometimes seem otherwise.
Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, LCDR, United States Navy Chaplain