Keri Wyatt Kent
When I cradled my first paycheck at age 16, I recognized the freedom it offered me. But generosity was tightly woven into my family culture. My parents’ example and the joy they experienced from giving was irresistible, and so I began the simple spiritual practice of giving.
I learned, however, that there’s an art to giving. Jesus didn’t just tell us to give. He told us how to give—in secret:
“Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:2–4).
We may hesitate to admit it, but we want to be known for our good deeds. When we are generous, our culture insists on putting donors’ names on a brick or a brass plate. But Jesus tells us to do good deeds in secret, without announcement.
I began looking for ways to follow His command. I paid attention to hidden needs and tried to respond with generosity. Sometimes that meant sending an anonymous monetary gift to a friend who was struggling financially. Most often, I never knew how the money was received. But occasionally I would learn that my gift had met a pressing need or was the answer to a desperate prayer. Few moments in my life have brought me more joy.
The joy we experience from giving is not the only reward. I discovered something else from this hidden giving: There is an intimacy in sharing secrets that strengthens a relationship. Perhaps that is the reward—intimacy with God.
Giving our money, our time and our attention will change us, but it will also change our relationship with God. That is worth far more than any brick or brass plate.
Biblical references are from the Common English Bible (CEB).