The major point in this section of the Sermon on the Mount is that we should not call attention to the good things we do. If we do there will be “no reward from our Father in heaven” (v. 1). The reason we give to the needy is to meet their need, not so that others will approve of what we have done. Giving should be so private that we can’t remember what we did – this is characterized as “not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing (v. 3).
Why is it so difficult to get along without the approval of others? The answer is not difficult when we reflect on the fact that self-concern is the dominant feature of human nature. Ever since Adam and Eve decided to believe Satan’s lie that God was withholding something from them, mankind has had to struggle with self-concern. It appears that very few if any have won the battle. People try, and we have to laud their attempts, but in the long run self still seems to be the victor
If you have followed my blogs you will be aware that on more than one occasion I have referred to this essential problem. It is helpful to think again about who in fact we are, but also to think of who we might be because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. It was never part of God’s plan for us to work really hard in order to become what we should be as Christian believers. He knew the power of a sinful nature. So he did something to help us arrive where we ought to be, he assigned the Holy Spirit to take up residence in the life of each of us. That is possible because God is infinite, he dwells in the heart of every believer. One thing remains and that is for us to turn to the indwelling Spirit in our times of need. He is ready, willing, and able to help us through every difficult time. He wants to help us become who we are in Christ.
The reason we so often fail is that Satan, while crippled on the cross, is still doing his best to maintain control of our life. He doesn’t give up easily and he is infinitely stronger than any one of us. The answer to our self-concern (the old nature will never change) is in calling on the indwelling Spirit at every moment of trial. He is never too busy to turn down a request. He takes great joy in helping us to live an other-related life. And that is exactly what Jesus taught: To find yourself you must lose yourself. The old nature hates the idea of our trust in God because every time we do, he loses the skirmish.
So when you do a charitable act, just do it. Rejoice in the lack of public approval because that means your reward is posted in heaven.