Sunday, February 15, 2015

100 Days on Jesus’ Sermon Mount (Day 36)

Jesus said, “So whenever you make a charitable donation, don’t sound a trumpet in advance, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they will receive the credit from their fellow humans; I am telling you for a fact, they have already received their reward.
— Matthew 6:2 (USC)
Motives are weighed by the Lord.
Not an iota of ill-gotten gain is blessed until every last skerrick is accounted for. The kudos we get because we thrust ourselves into the forefront of contentious attention comes to nothing. It’s rendered worthless. We established for ourselves a reward that passes away at light speed.
We know it when we shortcut God’s justice, which is to seek blessing for the good works of generosity we do. It’s like the Holy Spirit confirms it in our minds the very second we take what was never ours – the credit the world sees that is ours. Then, alongside the grievous thought, there is that confirming sinking feeling.
We do far better to button our lips – to zip them shut – to put a stop to the words.
Generosity has two standards: the standard of the act, and the standard of the heart that underpins the act. The first may come, but it may be devoid of the second.
The act is fundamental. What we do should align with what we think. But motives are seldom so pure.
Even as people we have come to know this about our human nature. We tend to look the gift horse in the mouth, which is to say we are sceptical of the giver’s intent.
But where we fix it in our minds to give in secret, and to deflect any praise we get whilst still being polite (which is to be loving), we realign our hearts to give in accord with the value of the gift. We don’t betray the gift’s value by buying back some of the credit.
To realign our hearts is to ensure that our living and loving God gets credit. He gave us what we are giving in the first place.
Integrity and sincerity are chief deployments in the war against hypocrisy. The task is to realign the act that gives generously with the heart that gives for the glory of God.
To give without doubting because we can and are able is to give to the Lord.
The only worthy reward for giving is the credit God gets when the glory goes to him.
1.     When have you surprised yourself with your generosity? Was it most when you thought about giving or was it when you gave spontaneously?
2.     Think of times when you took credit for giving – making people know – and when you decided to keep quiet. What were your feeling states in these situations?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.

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