As I think about how to be generous with my time, finances and love, I know that usually the best way is what is taught in Matthew 6—giving privately.
Easier said than done.
Like when I go to donate online and the website says, “Do you want this to be anonymous?” I think, “Is it wrong that I kinda want my friends to know I’m supporting their trip to Africa?” Or how I wait to throw my tip in the jar when the Barista is close enough to see. (Isn’t there a Seinfeld episode about this? I’m guessing George and I have more in common than I care to admit.)
Because, you see, Matthew 5 talks about letting your good works shine. So which is it?? Private or out in the light?
Photo Credit: Branden Harvey
What I’m learning is that the giving itself isn’t a black or white, right or wrong issue—rather, both verses end by saying, “…to honor your Father…” and “…so others will glorify God…”
The issue isn’t about the gift, it’s about the heart as we give.
Africa or tip jar, it doesn’t matter.
For me, this heart check is often connected to my financial giving, but I’ve found that this generosity can apply to my friendships, as well. I was frustrated with a friend recently, and when I took stock of why, it was because I felt like I had done much for them with little in return.
Aaaaand then I heard my thoughts and was embarrassed.
I realized half of my motivation of giving was because I wanted their response and appreciation…soooo I could feel good about myself. I do enjoy giving, but if I was honest with myself, I was looking to get something in return.
Again, I don’t think this is a black or white, right or wrong answer. If you have people in your life who walk all over you and ignore your efforts, that might be an issue to address. But for me, I wasn’t getting walked all over, I just wasn’t getting what I wanted reciprocated. The lack of reciprocation caused me to evaluate my “generous” heart and what it truly means to give with no expectation—to give selflessly.
As we enter the “gift giving” season, my prayer is we remember why we give and celebrate the ultimate selfless giver—and nothing more.