Prepare to Listen. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 6:1-4
Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them.” Since piety is the same Greek word as righteousness, Jesus has continued to explain how to live righteously, God’s way that is different from the world. Righteousness includes what we now call spiritual practices or disciplines and Jesus names three—almsgiving, prayer and fasting, none of which are unique to Christianity. What makes his disciples’ practice unique, says Jesus, is that they’re done in secret, laser-focused on God and God alone. He assumes that we practice them saying, when, not if, you give, pray, fast, and teaches us how and why to do this.
“When you give alms….” This often involves financial giving, but can also refer to an act of compassion to one in need. Jesus first teaches how not to give alms—don’t make a visible and noisy (blowing trumpets) effort to be seen and approved by others. Instead, when you give, don’t let the left hand see what right hand is doing. Jesus has exaggerated to make his point. I can’t hide what I do from one part of my anatomy! I can’t even hide it from some people like the treasurer of the organization I give to. Our giving is visible, but, as Bonhoeffer notes, we “must take care that it does not become visible simply for the sake of becoming visible.” The point is: Don’t make a show of giving, to draw attention to yourself. Trust that God sees and will reward in God’s way and time.
What is your motivation for giving alms, be that to the church or an organization helping the needy?
Respond in Prayer
When I practice giving, Lord, may it be solely for the purpose of glorifying you not myself. I will trust you to reward me when and how you see fit. Amen.
Live Obediently. Give, but in secret, for God’s eyes only.
 Matthew 6:2-28.
 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company. 1978, p. 141.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.