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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3–4 ESV)
Jesus taught that giving to those in need was important. Equally important was how believers in Christ are to give. They are to do so in secret; with the Lord being an audience of One.
In today’s text, notice that Jesus said “When you give to the needy.” He did not say “if.” Giving to those in true, physical need is expected of a true and sincere believer in Christ.
When we give to the needy, in whatever form that may take, Jesus taught that our left hand should not know what our right hand is doing. Jesus used this aphorism to illustrate that our giving should be done in strict secrecy. No one should know except the Lord. No one needs to know but the Lord.
“When Jesus says, ‘Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,’ He adds a new point. Not only should we avoid telling others about our righteous deeds, we should not even tell ourselves. We should have a blissful lack of self-consciousness because self-consciousness can decay into self-righteousness,” explains commentator Daniel M. Doriani.
“Our Savior warns us against sounding the trumpet when we give (Matt. 6:2). In His own context He may be referring to the priestly blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet) whenever there is a great need in the community. When this happened in His day, there was often an ostentatious display of men closing up shop and running toward the temple to be the first ones seen responding to the call. Trumpet-shaped collection boxes where money could be deposited to help the poor were present at the temple in the first century a.d., and these may also be the basis for Christ’s analogy in verses 2–4. Coins thrown into these boxes might make a loud noise, announcing that a great gift has been given. In any case, our Lord’s point is quite clear: Do not give in order to receive praise from men,” states Dr. R. C. Sproul.
In other words, our giving to the needy should be done without vanity, self-congratulation, or egotism. Our giving to the church should be done in the same way. This is the kind of giving that truly honors the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!