God’s Word instructs us to give in secret. But why, is it some sort of holy law or does God have a greater purpose for instructing us to give secretly? Before sharing my thoughts let’s take a look at what the Bible says:
“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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” -Matthew 6:2-4 NIV
The Bible seems clear on the matter but how should our giving manifest itself? And more practically, how does this affect a Christian? Let’s break this passage down to better understand the how and why of giving in secret.
Giving in secret glorifies God, not you
Giving your money back to the Lord is an act of worship and brings glory to the Lord. It’s never about us. Some may whip out their massive checkbook or make sure people can see their wad of cash going into the offering bowl. God hates this and calls these types of acts “dirty rags.” By giving in secret, we avoid the temptation to show off to others and bring attention to ourselves.
It prevents pride
Giving in secret is an unselfish act that puts all the attention on the Lord. It’s easy to let self-righteousness build inside us. Giving to pump the ego is a road best left untravelled. Perhaps we should go further than giving in secret. Why not have money automatically withdrawn from your account for regular tithing. This way, you don’t even realize it’s happening and avoid the temptation to think about “how great you are” for giving your money away. Remember, it’s not your money in the first place!
Matt’s note: Though automatic giving has plenty of benefits be careful not to let it disconnect the giver from the need.
Christians vs. Christian
What about comparing Christians as a group to a singular Christian? When individual Christians give publicly, selfish motives may more easily creep in. Perhaps giving in secret with other Christians and focusing on the furthering of God’s kingdom would help guard against selfish giving. When the corporate church is generous, God is glorified. If a church is giving generously and secretly, the Lord is glorified. It all comes down to glorifying God. We have to make this our focus. Once we do, giving in secretly comes naturally.
It’s a matter of the heart
I know that some of you might be reading this and have questions about the issue of legalism. I don’t want to give that impression. The Bible does not make it a requirement to give in secret. What it does do is continually refer to the heart. Take the New Testament for example. Jesus sees a widow giving two of her coins in Mark 12 41-44, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Now, was the widow in the wrong for not giving secretly? Of course not! It comes down to the giver’s heart. As long as your heart is in the right place, God honors that. The reason giving in secret is recommended is because it’s tempting to fall prey to pride and selfishness. God encourages secret giving because He knows our weaknesses and wants to help us give with more joy!
In conclusion, consider giving in secret from now on but mostly, work on your heart. Get back to the basics of giving generously and joyfully. Store up treasures in Heaven, not here on Earth. You won’t regret it!