November 20, 2006

The Way to Give

Matthew 6:1-4

"Be careful not to do your ?acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them." Matthew 6:1


Some family stories get passed along from generation to generation. One story in my mother's family goes back to the time of the Great Depression. My mother, her siblings, and her parents were sitting at their dining room table, ready to eat--but there was no food on the table because the pantry was bare. As usual, my grandfather asked the Lord for a blessing on the meal. While he prayed, there was a knock at the door. When they opened the door after prayer, the family saw no one. But there was a large box filled with food, and on top of the food was a 100-guilder bill (the currency of the Netherlands). In those days that was a small fortune. My mom and her family never discovered who the benefactor was, but whoever it was had the right idea about giving.

Be careful when you give, says Jesus. Don't do it for the applause of others. Sometimes our church deacons, for example, might bring an envelope of money to a struggling family in our community. While they carefully account for the use of money given to the church, they can often do so in a way that simply shows the love of Christ without identifying anonymous donors.

The blessing of such giving is that God, who sees "what is done in secret, will reward you." God wants us to give from the heart and not for our own gain.


Lord, we sometimes have given in order to be praised. Forgive us, we pray. Remind us that Jesus left the riches of heaven so that we, who are poor, might become rich. Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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