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January 24

Matthew 6, 1-4

Something to read

Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.
Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

Giving to the needy is big business. We are used to the annual fundraising spectaculars that come on our TVs and to the regular and big events that include those triumphant moments when the big cheques get handed over amidst wild applause.

Fundraising can be done in a spirit of public celebration and with the highest of visibility. And good work gets done with the cash as a result. So let’s not knock it.

But let’s also hear Jesus offer us the quiet way; and ponder.

Jesus frames his comment about giving to those in need around our relationship with God. He drives at why we give. Do we do so to gain the admiration and respect of others? If we do, then something has gone wrong with charity.

An extra motive has crept in to taint the gift. It is no longer that we see a need and respond as best we can to it. Instead we see a need and ensure that our response will bring us glory; the need has become peripheral as an excuse to glorify ourselves.

So Jesus gives us a better way. Keep giving, but do so in secret so that only God knows what’s going on. And our reward? Our reward comes in living generously, offering to others out of the bounty God has offered us without fuss and without the spotlight of publicity. Jesus asks us to keep things simple and, as a result, to make giving holy.

Something to do

Without fuss or fanfare, buy the Big Issue from someone who is homeless today. If you don’t have that opportunity, make a donation to a charity online. Is there an appeal you’ve been meaning to give to but not got round to? Give today.

Something to pray

In our very public world, dear God,
give us the wisdom to care without seeking to be praised.
Help us to make life better for someone today
without the need for thanks and flattery.
Help us to see our giving as worship,
offering back to you in thankfulness
something of what we have been blessed with.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.


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