Matthew 6:3 “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”
What is it about giving to others that warrants such special attention?
You would think giving something away wouldn’t require much dialogue. You have something and you choose to give it to someone else. The one receiving the gift may be thankful or just act like it’s expected, (I’ve known both). But Jesus doesn’t seem to put as much emphasis into how we receive gifts, He seems to be more interested in how we give them.
If we look into the teachings of Jesus, we see certain details of giving.
Matthew 6:1-2 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
Jesus doesn’t distinguish between the people that witness the deeds, He is concerned about the intent of your heart as you give. When those who are not believers in Christ witness your good deeds they may wonder why your doing what you’re doing, or may think your crazy for giving your stuff away, or they might even assist you.
It’s when we do a good deed to be admonished by our peers that Jesus reminds us our reward will be limited to the acclaim of men and not of God.
In verse five, Jesus makes mention of hypocrites. They are called hypocrites because they show what people think is godliness but their hearts are focused on themselves. People can be hypocrites when they give. Matter of fact, there are all kinds of seemingly “good deeds” performed by people but with a focus toward self-adulation.
Jesus mentions these kinds of people in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
These hypocrites were people who may have looked really good to others, just not to God. They may be leaders in a church and often times people will support them or try and become like them—The problem is there is one big piece that is missing.
Jesus was never in it!
The Holy Spirit wasn’t leading these hypocrites in ministering to others, they were doing it on their own accord. It may of sounded honorable, the world might have praised them and even those being helped may have thanked them but they may have received their reward by the praise from their peers.
The heart of a hypocrite has no fellowship with God. They aren’t led by the Spirit, because they don’t know the Lord. The hypocrite claims fellowship with God, performs deeds that look good, and yet lack the love of God behind the work.
There is one underlying purpose for their falsity:
God hates pride. It was pride that led to Lucifer’s fall, it was the pride of man that led to his spiritual death and it is pride that has inhibited all those who have denied submitting to God’s plan and purpose for their lives.
Psalm 10:4 “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”
Pride is an affront to God because it denies Him.
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
Pride places you as the ruler of your life. Pride rejects God’s sovereignty and elevates man’s limited understanding in place of God’s immeasurable wisdom and knowledge—people act as their own god when acting in pride.
Pride blasphemes God’s name.
When Jesus spoke of the idea of denying your left hand from talking to your right hand, this confused me for years. The church often taught this meant keeping secret any deed that was done for God, unless of course you wanted to lose your reward–Even deeds done by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But is this what the Bible teaches?
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Stirring up one another is a process of encouraging one another toward godliness. The sins of commission are those that are done intentionally, like giving with evil intent. The sins of omission are those times we should have acted and chose not to.
Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
In Israeli culture the left hand was used to clean yourself after using the outhouse, you never shook hands with the left since that would be offensive. Interesting how Jesus will at the end of the age separate the sheep from the goats, the goats are those who have rejected Him as Savior and will be on the left while the sheep who are His faithful followers will be on the right. This story was illustrated in Matthew 25.
We have to remember the original hearers when considering the teaching. The left hand was defiled, just as the people of the world are defiled before God. As believers, we have a sinful nature that we were born with and we have a godly nature that was given by Christ upon salvation—one is defiled and will be done away with, the other will endure forever.
If we act in the flesh, even as believers, we lose our godly reward. If we act in the Spirit, we act according to God’s intent and purpose and this will bring the applause of Heaven.
Work done in the Spirit has good spiritual fruit that is born of it. We may not always see it but we can know that it is there. Work done in the flesh shows where it has come from, it often times produces unthankfulness, greed, or encourages someone down a path that is destructive.
Giving with Purpose
Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When we give faithfully before God, we express His love, hopefully helping others to see Jesus. Since God is the One doing the work and we are just instruments of His goodness, our obedience brings glory to Him.
The principle of giving to others is similar to the principle of giving to God…..the gifts you give were already His, your just responsible for distributing it accordingly. Giving back to God is one of the few times God encourages us to test Him.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
The encouragement to believers is to not withhold their giving but consider the measure of faith they use.
Sow giving like Seed
2 Corinthians 9:6 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
Many have taken this scripture out of context to imply giving more brings much more blessing from God…particularly God giving money in return for faithfulness. The prosperity gospel thrives off this concept.
The reaping Paul mentions is the spiritual harvest of souls. We’ve got to stop concerning ourselves with how much we get, and consider how we are going about in giving. Giving is more than just money, it can be time spent with others, helping someone with the strength you have, or just listening and encouraging.
Some people have more than just monetary needs and so being wise in understanding their need is key. When you give, remember your attitude in the way you go about it.
- Give with purpose—to glorify God
- Give joyfully—knowing the Lord will use it well.
- Give wisely—as God leads.
There are times our help is for someone that refuses to help themselves and thus we might be encouraging foolish behavior. Some people try to live a lifestyle they can’t support so they continually look for assistance. Once you are known to be a giver, it draws many people in asking for help–so be prepared.
Remember, good giving comes from God—pray for discernment.
When we share what we have with those who don’t know Him, we express the love of God practically and hopefully open a door to give them a much greater gift: the gift of eternal life in Jesus!
It can be difficult finding the right balance in giving or withholding, so be sure to pray before you start to minister.
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things,Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Whether you are giving food, clothes, or money, let it be done with a heart of worship. If we are led by the Spirit of God, we are counted as sons and daughters of God, and the work we do will be blessed. Our work will have it’s just reward and Jesus will likewise be glorified. Let’s not judge one another’s work, Jesus makes this teaching very clear—we don’t know others hearts and where their motivation comes from, so let God do the judging and us do the obeying.
The fruit of good works shows itself in due time.