She proudly walks to the front of the room, steps buoyant and slow, smiling at her peers as she passes. Upon reaching the front of the Sunday School classroom, she unzipped her pink purse and removed a small ziplock bag full of coins.
Clank. Clank. Clank.
One by one, she drops the dimes and nickels into the jar, ensuring that they hit the bottom with a loud thud. Each coin dropped more forcefully than the last. When the contents of the bag were emptied out, she flashed a smile and skipped back to her seat, completely pleased with herself. This was a typical scene during offering time in my Kindergarten Sunday School classroom. Each week, the children with the loudest coins earned the spotlight among their peers. "Oohs" and "ahhs" filling the silence as they proudly emptied their parent’s money into the missionary jar. We applaud and cheer, and just like that, the reason for giving is skewed.
Do we ever really grow out of this? The crave for recognition always gnawing at our souls?
We see it thousands of years ago too, people giving their money to God for the sounds of applause and trumpets at the announcing of their “gift”.
There may not be trumpets blasting for our good deeds anymore, but take a quick scroll through Facebook and you will see that our human nature has not changed much in thousands of years. We are a society who loves instant gratification. We are a people serving others for the elevation of our own reputations. At the root, we are still that kindergartener with the baggie full of dimes, waiting for the cheers of our classmates.
But what does God say?
“...When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:6:20a-21
How do we do that? How are we to lay up treasures in Heaven from here on earth? Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter:
“1- Take heed that ye do not give your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2- Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3- But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4- That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. -5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6- But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
In the original text, the word “alms” means compassion shown towards the poor, or acts of benevolence. (For extra credit: go back through and read this passage replacing “alms” with “acts of kindness”) Basically, it’s the good stuff. The things commanded of us, as Christians, in the Bible. Jesus warns us about the pros and cons of publicly serving and committing good works for the praise and recognition of man. Pro? Your reward will be on earth. Con? Your reward will be on earth. When our actions bring us our reward here and now, we will not receive the reward in Heaven or the recognition from our Heavenly Father. Our reward from Christ comes when we have had no reward from men.
Lay up for yourselves treasures In Heaven.
Earthly rewards will not be duplicated.
To be spiritually rich, we must seek the Glory of God, not the glory of ourselves.
Choose eternal rewards instead of pursuing the fleeting rewards of now.
“...thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
ARH Staff Writer