So whenever you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored and recognized and praised by men. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charitable acts will be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
There is a certain way in which the world views giving, and that became glaringly obvious to me during my time in law school. At first, I did not pay much attention to the many names of people and firms assigned to certain rooms and areas of our school building or to certain programs of study. Once I realized that everything seemed to be named after someone or some entity, I just thought the school was recognizing people and organizations of importance to the school. Of course, that was wrong. What was really happening was that anyone who gave enough money to construction or the establishment of a new program earned the right to have the project named after them. A few years after my graduation even the school itself changed its name to honor a large donor.
If you want recognition for your generosity, do not give in the name of the Lord. He does not publish an annual honor roll of givers to the cause divided into the silver donors, gold donors and platinum donors. If we give to the poor, we have not purchased the right to have our names placed up high for all to see. The public reward so often given to the generous hand in this world is something we can forget about. That is not the purpose of spiritual giving. God wants our giving to be so stealth that we do not even recognize we have done it. It is not for me to pat myself on the back when I have done my good deed and provided for someone in need. It is not for me to be rewarded by others or even by myself. We give simply for the sake of giving, and God rewards as He sees fit.
There is a trade-off here. We can give loudly for all to see and hear, and we can reap whatever reward comes with that public recognition before men. However, in doing so we forgo the secret reward which God has reserved for those who have given in secret. Although we do not give for the purpose of receiving anything, it is clear from the scripture that a reward always comes. The question is one of which type of reward really has value. It is the valuable gift, the selfless and hidden gift, which reaps the valuable God-given reward. Being given the choice, I think all of us would prefer to be honored by God than by men. Father, correct our thinking regarding our giving that we would operate in secret without seeking recognition, knowing that the accolades of men are no reward in your kingdom.