I am not sure many people really believe what Matthew 6:1-4 teaches! Here is what it says…
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your father who is in heaven! So 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! 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
It seems to me, that the passage teaches that motivation in giving, or any other righteous act, is very important! If being noticed by others or receiving recognition and acclaim is really important to you, you’ve lost your reward from God.
Now, let me tell you, I’ve been around long enough and pastored enough churches to tell you that all you have to do is accidentally leave some people’s names off of a plaque or fail to recognize them with appropriate fanfare publicly and they will be deeply offended. In fact, I’ve had them ask me what would be done to give them or their family appropriate recognition if they gave a gift. Based upon this passage, if that is the motivation at all, it cancels out the whole thing from God’s point of view. You can almost hear the sound of the canceling signal… Blaaaaaaa! No reward!
Not only that, what a blessing is missed when an anonymous – non-acclaim-seeking gift is given! I hesitate to mention it, but it may help someone out there… Sharon and I, in one instance, decided to test it. We knew a family in our church had a deep financial need! We knew they had been seeking the Lord fervently in prayer for an answer. So we decided to “be the answer to their prayer” totally anonymously. We took a significant amount of money, got it in cash (at some risk), wrapped it in a note (typewritten… no name), went to a neighboring town and mailed it without a return address. The next Sunday, what incredible joy we experienced! The husband and wife were overflowing and effusive in praise to the Lord for answering their prayer! It was like “money from heaven” they said – they had no idea where it had come from… They said it “must have been God that dropped the idea in someone’s heart (or perhaps an angel that did it)! They shared it in their Sunday school class, they asked permission to share in our evening service! Sharon and I had a wonderful, warm, glow of grace-gratitude in our hearts… And they (nor the church) know who did it to this day! Fun! Fun!! Fun!!! But God knows!!! And one day… Can’t hardly wait!