Are You Giving to Others Just to Impress Yourself?

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Matthew 6:3 (ESV)

After 40 U.S. billionaires pledged several years ago to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity, headlines proclaimed that philanthropy had become a “new status symbol” for the wealthy.

One expert on charitable giving, Stacy Palmer of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, made a prediction at the time that seems prophetic today: “It will be something that’s very important to the wealthy — to be able to say, ‘I give my money away as much as I spend it in all these other exciting ways.’ Clearly pressure on the elite is high right now to say that they are giving money away and that will make it trendy.”

In response to such sentiments, many Christians may recall Jesus’ warning against giving in order to impress others. Yet they easily forget that His warning went farther. Indeed, He said that giving to impress anyone other than God – even oneself – is an abuse of a spiritual discipline.

In Matthew 6, He addressed some pointed words to religious leaders who gave away money with self-serving ostentation. He told them giving should be done with pleasing God as one’s main focus, not pleasing self. As odd as it may sound, there is such a thing as “selfish giving.” It occurs when people give with a desire for public recognition or even the private opportunity to congratulate themselves in smug self-righteousness.

Of course, there are benefits that accompany “selfish giving.” For example, parks, academic buildings, and museums all enrich their communities even when the donor insists on having his name attached to them. They also provide the giver with a modicum of satisfaction.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Roach