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What does it mean in Matthew 6:3-4!

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1 What does it mean in Matthew 6:3-4! on Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:36 am


What does it mean that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3–4)?

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3–4). What did He mean?

The clear context suggests that the phrase “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” refers to giving in secret and stands in contrast with drawing attention to our giving. Those who give for others to see have already received their reward (Matthew 6:2). God will reward those who give in secret.

This contrast helps to define the general idea regarding the phrase, but more detail can be provided. Jesus is using an illustration to show the importance of keeping one’s giving secret. Obviously, hands do not have a mind of their own and a person cannot hide something in one hand without the other hand knowing about it. However, a person can easily understand the metaphor’s focus of creating a division between giving to those in need and drawing attention to the action.

This illustration also follows His serious condemnation of the “hypocrites,” likely the Jewish religious leaders, noted in the previous verse: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:2). Jesus also refers to these hypocrites in Matthew 6:5 regarding prayer and Matthew 6:16 regarding fasting.

After giving these three examples, which apply to all other good acts we do for God, Jesus shares His main point to not store up treasures on earth, but rather in heaven: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). That is why Scripture tells us to, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). Then our truly priceless reward will come when we hear these words as we enter eternity: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Does this mean we should never let others know about our giving? Not necessarily. However, the focus is on the motive of our giving. Our generosity is to be motivated by our love for God and our focus on eternity rather than the temporary praises of people. Because of the temptation for pride associated with public displays of generosity, it is generally best to not draw attention to our gifts to those in need.

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