Hypocritical Giving

Journal Entry // May 21, 2023

“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. (ESV)

Matthew 6:2

This section of the Sermon on the Mount is setting our focus on the dangers of hypocritical faith or a faith lived before other people to receive their applause and commendation instead of God’s approval alone. The first thing to notice in the passage is that Jesus expects his disciples to be giving to the needy. It’s not “if” you give, but “when” you give. There is a healthy and just expectation that the followers of Christ will be generous with their time, their talents, and their treasure. They will have a good desire to give generously to those in need. Not just financial needs, but emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual needs as well. Just as important as it is to be generous and giving of ourselves and our resources, it is just as important to give with proper motivation and desire. The hypocrites give because they want to be acknowledged for their generosity in giving. The followers of Christ are to give with a heart motivation of thanksgiving. We give to others because Christ has given so abundantly to us that we only desire to demonstrate our trust and dependence upon him through our sacrifice of giving.

Does my giving need to be done in secret? It really depends on context but generally, there is no qualification that it must be done in secret or anonymously as my heart motivation of loving Jesus with my gift will guide me. I think there are occasions where it is good to give anonymously and to keep our gift solely between me and the Lord, but there is also an important element of allowing the receiver to acknowledge their gratefulness to me. There is something beautiful and spiritually uplifting to Christ as the giver and the receiver rejoice over the gift together and give thanks and praise to the Lord. I think back over the years and I am thankful for the anonymous gifts that arrived to sustain our family and meet a specific need. These gifts were truly a blessing from God and they brought me before Jesus in thanksgiving. Yet, I also remember those times when a faithful friend met a need, and I was able to rejoice with him together over the met need. He was able to share his heart in why he wanted to give the gift and I was able to express my gratitude to God for his giving and we both gave glory to the Lord in that moment. It was a very encouraging and uplifting expression that still brings me joy as I remember God’s provision.

What Jesus wants me to be aware of in this passage is that my reason for giving should never be to receive the praise of man. Even my gift done in secret can be done with an attitude of earthly expectation, but we are not to give with the expectation of receiving applause from people. This is not truly giving to the needy. This becomes self-promotion and a way to demonstrate the depth and reach of my resources. No, Jesus does not want me to shout it from the rooftops or announce my gift with trumpets and a parade. He just wants me to give because he has given to me so abundantly.

The abundance of God’s grace and mercy in my life is the motivation that fuels my generous giving.  I give out of the abundance of Jesus’ generosity to me. I am only a steward of these resources, time – talent – treasure, and there is an expectation and a necessity to be generous with the things of God. He gives them to me for his good pleasure and he wants to see me do the same. He wants to see me being generous just as he has been generous to me. For it is through this generosity that the love of God is proclaimed to the world around me. The blessings of God often flow through my hands and feet, through my words of encouragement, and through my simple faith being lived out in every moment of time. Give and give some more. Continually casting before my Savior everything that he has given me and looking to him alone for my satisfaction and joy.

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