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August 9, 2011 / Daniel

Giving in Secret

Trumpet Solo
In his exposition of the OT Law, Jesus says, “Do not resist the evil-doer” (Matt 5:39).  He illustrates this with the statement, “Give to the one who begs from you” (Matt 5:42).  In chapter 6, Jesus gives further instruction on how to give to the needy.  He makes a contrast between how hypocrites give and how his disciples should give.  Once again Jesus’ words are filled with hyperbole.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The title “hypocrites” is probably a reference to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus’ chief opponents in the gospels (Matt 5:20).  In secular Greek, the word “hypocrite” was used to refer to an actor in a play.  This is the main problem with the giving of the Pharisees.  It’s a performance.  The actor’s motive is to bring attention to himself.   They sound trumpets just to let everyone know that a good deed is about to be done. (This is an example of hyperbole).   What’s the alternative?  “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”   Of course, this is technically impossible unless you were to get a lobotomy.   The point is that your giving must be done not on the stage, but in secret.  Undercover.

Giving is not about self-promotion.  It’s about getting to know your Heavenly Father better.


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