I thought about this the other day. A homeless man was sitting at the supermarket entrance with a sign asking for help. He’s been there before and I’ve watched cars go by, some giving and others not giving. Usually it was in the “not giving” category. It made me wonder what motivates us to give.
Recognition: From founders of institutions to a church trying to do renovations being recognized is one motive for donating money. A plaque usually lists all the donors, and sometimes there are bricks or benches or other items with the person’s name.
To Receive: Giving often leaves an obligation. The person who receives then feels it necessary to repay. It may be a dinner invitation. It may be donating blood. It could be any of a million different things. In this instance it usually involves people or organizations we are involved with.
Yanked Heartstrings: You’ve seen the news stories. A young mother/father is killed leaving no money for bills or funeral expenses. Some thief takes a child’s only mode of transportation…a special wheelchair for instance…and we reach for our checkbooks. It could be one of us. It could be our child.
It’s Family: This has its own special category. We give time, money and talent because we love them. While we don’t precisely expect something back in kind, we also know that if something happens to us our family will help. No one (usually) keeps a tab on how much or what each family member has done to help. We just do it.
What did Jesus say? Here is where I want to share something important. If we give for recognition or for an expected return of the favor, we have had our reward. We are recognized and we are paid back. When we give without expecting a return and without letting the world know we’ve given, God sees it and the rewards come from Him.
Jesus told us “”Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Let’s go back to the homeless man sitting on the corner. He cannot pay anyone back if they give him money. He can’t return the favor. If you’re in your car, you most likely won’t be noticed donating. You could follow what Jesus said. It’s the perfect opportunity and the only way God will allow you to test Him.