Charity Without a Press Release

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." ~ (Matthew 6:1-4; NASB)

In just about every major city across America, without asking a single person who the most charitable person in town is, you could easily find out who that is simply by driving around a few blocks.

During your adventure, you will eventually discover a bunch of buildings with somebody's last name on them.  Where I live at in Charlotte, North Carolina, you'll discover the name "Levine" is all over the place.  They are a very generous family that has given hundreds of millions of dollars back to the local community.

And how do I know such?

Well, because they like to talk about their charity in the local news, such as the Charlotte Observer, and in more widely circulated news outlets, like the New York Times.  And in case any of those stories are ever lost or forgotten, the Leon Levine Foundation website will tell you on the very first page how much money he's given, and where he's given it.

Such a phenomenon is not unique to the world.

Such a thing happens even in the church.  In many older churches, you will often find pews that have tiny little name plates on the end of them, that tell you exactly who made it possible for you to sit in that pew.  Individuals known for their charity to the church regularly get appointed into important leadership positions.  And in churches that are more media intensive and tech savvy, there is this tendency to show short infomercials in church, where we videotape somebody handing a check to somebody else, and show it on a big screen... all in the name of Jesus of course.

There is something in our DNA that strongly loves the idea of charity, and helping somebody else out.  It's the stuff God has put in us as creatures created in His image.  God is a giver, and He has made us to be givers as well.

But in our fallen nature, something has crept into our humanity that is always looking out for number one.  We want to give, but we don't want to do so freely.  We want to give, but we want to know what's in it for us.  We want to give, but we want to attach strings to our dollars.  We want to give, but we want to be recognized for our giving.

Jesus blasted this sort of giving in His teachings.

We should give, and give generously.  But we should give in ways where we receive no recognition for it.  There should be no blowing of the trumpets in the synagogue or on street corners. We should not ask our name be put on any buildings; issue no press releases; and in God's holy name, we should never video tape ourselves putting money in somebody else's hands.

The only one who should be glorified in our giving is God.  And such giving requires no PR stunt on His behalf.  We should give secretly, like Jesus said, without drawing any attention to ourselves.  For if our giving is in anyway self-serving, then we are simply make-believe actors (hypocrites) who are not as selfless as we appear.

We may believe our own press, but God knows better.

And for all the philanthropists who make names for themselves in their charity work, I would encourage you to continue to do what you do and give.  There are people out there who desperately need your charity.  But when you give in such a way that somebody gives you a trophy for all of your giving, know such is the only reward you will ever get.  And what's that going to get you in the long run?

Rather, instead of giving in such a way that somebody gives you a pat on the head, give in such a way that the only person in this world who can reward you, is if God Himself rewards you.  And I don't know about you, but I would rather have a reward that came from God, instead of a case full of trophies.

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