“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Matt. 6:3)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 6:1-4
In second grade, I learned a new twist on the traditional Christmas gift exchange. We each put our name into a hat and picked someone to be the recipient of our generous holiday shopping. But we weren’t allowed to put our own name on the card—each giver was a “Secret Santa.” I remember buying a fabulous present within the agreed-upon price constraints (though not what it was or who it was for) and wrapping it to be more enticing than any other in the pile. Then I watched as a particular person received my gift and opened it with a squeal of glee.
I wanted so badly to run up to them and tell them that I was the giver of their most wonderful gift. I wanted them not only to be happy, but to be happy because of me. Still, I followed the rules.
It actually goes against all of the rules of our society. People do acts of charity and philanthropy so that they can get a measure of PR from it. Sometimes putting your name on such gifting will make you feel better about the unethical ways that you made the money in the first place. This was certainly true of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, and a long list of current public donors. No wonder Jesus told us to give—and to keep it a secret even from ourselves.
Fill a need for someone today—without them knowing you did it.
Rich Eckley is professor emeritus of theology at Houghton College (NY). He is an ordained Wesleyan minister and enjoys—with his wife Lynn—entertaining four active grandchildren.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.