Matthew 6.1-6, 16-21
Do This, Not That
By Dr. Carol J Miller
One of the ways that parents know that their children are growing, not only getting taller, but are growing up in their thinking, is when they hear their boy or girl say, “Here, let me help you.” When kids begin to understand that they are not the only one who is important, they are really growing! Do you have a baby at your house?
Is a baby sorry because she woke her parents up in the middle of the night by crying? No, she’s not sorry. She is not even able to know that parents get tired and need rest. When a baby pulls your hair, some grownup will say, “She doesn’t know it hurts.” That baby only knows what she wants. All that is important to a baby is getting what she wants.
We are not babies! But even grownups act like babies sometimes. And so did grownups in Jesus’ day. One of the baby things they did was to show off. Where Jesus lived, you could get your way if you were rich. Then people thought you were special. One way that people could show people how rich they were was to give money for the poor at the temple.
One day, Jesus saw rich people making a big deal out of giving money to the poor and needy. They made a big show of giving their money. They were not giving money because they loved God. They just wanted people to see how good they were, how generous they were. They were showing off.
Other people did the same thing with prayers. Someone would walk along the sidewalk mumbling a prayer and looking serious. “How religious he is, people would say, how close to God he must feel.” But that person was not so interested in God. He just wanted people to think how good he was.
Jesus said to the disciples and to us, that if we follow him, we must not make a big noise about giving money to help others. Instead of trying to impress other people, it’s better to just try to please God.
Copyright 2014, Richard Niell Donovan