Posts Tagged ‘charity’

No One Needs to Know

george-costanza“Therefore, when you give to the poor do not sound the alarms like those people performing in a worship service or on the streets so that people may honor them.  I say to you, in all honesty, that is their payment.”–Matthew 6:2

Do you see this guy to the left?  You probably remember George Costanza from the great sitcom, Seinfeld.  In one episode, George is furious when he opens a card from a friend.  The friend has given money to an organization in George’s name, an alliance for needy children.  It is a noble gift.  George does not appreciate it.  He sees it as an opportunity to give out Christmas gifts without really giving anything.  He  comes up with a fake, non-profit organization, the Human Fund.  He delivers cards to all of his co-workers with the phrase, “A donation in your name has been made to the Human Fund–money for people.”

What makes it so funny is that we all get letters like this.  I often am humbled when someone hands me a card explaining that a gift has been made in my name.  It seems like a good thing, right?  It feels good to give.  It feels great to know that someone thought of me when she or he gives.

And then there are the thousands of examples of corporations giving philanthropically.  Companies really like to tell the world when they have done something charitable.  Companies like their names on signs.  Giving to those in need makes for great advertising.  It is a travesty to take part in charitable giving and not give a press release.  Like a tree falling in the woods, can a corporation donate money without telling anyone?

Jesus teaches that we need to be anonymous with our giving.  Why?  Doesn’t it feel great to give?  Isn’t it great to get publicity when we do?  Apparently that is the whole point.  Jesus makes it clear that it is not about us!  His followers are to love other people, even those people we do not like.  Our love is to be so genuine that we cannot perform acts of love for our own sake, for our own good feeling.  It is the word, ‘perform,’ that seems important to Christ.  Matthew uses ‘hypocrite’ to describe Jesus’ intent.  Hypocrites are performers, actors on the stage with bold movements so that everyone can see.  We are to be ourselves and not actors.  We are not called to play characters that do charitable giving, no matter how funny George Costanza can be.

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