“When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” — Matthew 6:3
For many of the people Jesus was speaking to in this passage, generosity and righteousness were considered the same. And it was not uncommon that people publicized their giving.
That happens today too. We see it when a famously wealthy person gives part of their fortune to a charity—along with a press release and media interviews.
Public recognition can feel good. It can be nice to hear praise when you can provide something that would otherwise not be possible. But Jesus says there is an even greater reward for people who give quietly. Who do you want keeping the records when it comes to your generosity? Is the applause of the world better than the reward of blessing from God?
When it comes to giving generously, three principles come to mind. First, no one is too poor to give. Even if you are struggling to get by, God will bless your generosity. Second, generous giving should be sacrificial. C. S. Lewis said that the safest rule for giving is to give more than you can spare. Finally, the amount you give ought to be decided in your own heart and not given out of compulsion. It is a private matter between you and God.
The purpose of your giving should not be to impress others. Instead, it is a discipline that should increase your faith in God to provide for you and to draw you closer to him.