Jesus says: Stop Taking Volunteer Selfies!!!

These days, an increasing number of churches are having a multi-day volunteer events, in which there is a big push from the pulpit for the church to come together corporately for the purpose of engaging in good works that impact the local community, to serve as a witness to our civic leaders and neighbors as to the value of our church in our city, and to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Mimicking what has long been a practice in corporate America, these "Love Week" events typically require volunteers to log and record the hours they spent volunteering and to report it back to the church.  Also, they generally require all the volunteers to wear a bright colored t-shirt with the church logo on it for advertising purposes, and to show our unity as a church.

And just as in corporate America, a camera always magically appears from nowhere to take a picture and record the event, so that the picture can be later used for promotional purposes, to show how awesome and valuable our church is at "giving back."  And often, volunteers readily whip out their cell phones, and take selfies of their group, and post these selfies on Facebook for all the world to see.

And we do all of this, because it's exactly what Jesus told us to do... right?

Interestingly enough, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to just do the opposite:

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)

We may not literally blow trumpets in the marketplace anymore when we seek to do a good deed.  But we sure as heck love to blow up Facebook and Instagram with us engaging in charitable works all around town with our friends.

Our most beloved corporations and churches just love to get their hands on as many recorded volunteer hours and photographs as possible.  Such is great fodder for advertising, or more importantly, to remind government officials making zoning decisions about how important your organization is to the community.  Plus, it gives volunteers warm fuzzies about being part of such an "important" organization that gives back to the community and "really makes a difference."

In other words, such activity at the end of the day is self-seeking and self-promoting.

And it is ultimately deceptive, because it gives the impression that such activity is being engaged in purely for the love of community, as a selfless act, when in fact such activity is being engaged for purely selfish purposes.  It gains the attention that is sought from others, and that attention is ultimately sought for the purpose of benefiting the corporation, the church, or the individual.

Of course, Jesus says if attention is something you crave, then feel free to soak up all the attention you want from this world.  The attention you crave is the reward you will receive in full.  But don't think you have any brownie points with God, or that you've done something of eternal significance.  You'll get your proverbial "pat on the back" and favor with the people you desire attention from.

But don't think you'll be receiving an ounce of favor from God.  God won't even notice what you've done.  You might get a few miles out of the attention you gain from others, but that's not going to gain you very much in the grand scheme of things.

Instead, Jesus says that when you engage in good deeds, do your good deeds as quietly as possible, and seek to be noticed by God, and God alone.  Jesus says to lay off all the volunteer selfies and blowing up Instagram with them.  Jesus says don't do a "check-in" a status update on Facebook every time you volunteer at the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.  Jesus says stop recording your volunteer hours to report to your pastor.

After all, God notices what you are doing to help others. Every hour you've volunteered is recorded in heaven with Him.  He sees what you are doing in secret, without you seeking to bring attention to yourself.  And He who sees what you do in secret will grant you more favor than anybody in this world could possibly grant you, not only now, but throughout all eternity.


  1. Well said.

    I also feel a twinge of conscience when I post on FB something I made ...:-/

    1. It is definitely something one needs to seek God over to make sure they are doing it with the right motives and a pure heart. I've found over the last few weeks as I study and write more about the Sermon in the Mount, that Jesus is constantly testing the stuff our hearts are made of, and exposing their inner workings. It's galvanizing stuff.