“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Citizens of the kingdom of heaven keep their hearts in check by living their lives of generosity quietly. Jesus is concerned that we might focus upon the wrong audience for approval. At least three ways to live generous lives are available to every person.
- Ostentatious: “Hey everyone, watch me help this poor person!”
- Prideful: “Hey God! Did you see that? I’m really good in Your sight, now, aren’t I? Not like that person over there. I’ll bet he doesn’t even tithe, let alone give more like me!”
- Perfect: “God, help me be more generous in every way, just like You!”
Jesus makes it clear that the rewards for the ostentatious or prideful are the immediate gratification they get in the moment. In the kingdom of heaven, however, that is where their blessing both begins and ends with nothing to show for it.
In this two-part series we spend time talking about the generous life that strives to imitate God’s generosity in part 1. Part 2 focuses upon giving consistently in a planful way that honors the Lord in faith by putting Him first. Also in part 2 we used three charts to illustrate our own giving patterns and to encourage each other to become every more intentional in how we give. Here are the three charts:
Here we see a monthly average of giving since February 2012 with a clear uptick in our present giving.
Here, focusing in to the last 1 1/2 years, since January 2017, we see a similar pattern as we average each month’s giving patterns.
Finally, we look at the week-to-week contributions over the last 1 1/2 years and the pattern swings more erratically. This seems to reflect a more inconsistent tendency in our giving. Hence, today’s lesson simply focuses upon making sure that we are being planful and intentional in our giving, putting God first in faith that He will provide.