Do Good in Secret

Read: Matthew 6:1-4

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (v. 3)

He was a candidate for public office, and his campaign speech was one long, self-congratulatory tribute. Those of us in the audience were given a guided tour through the treasure room of his virtues—how he’d served at the local soup kitchen, dispensed medicine to poor children in Africa, served on the boards of various charities. On and on he went. He didn’t actually sound a trumpet “as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets” (v. 2), but he certainly blew his own horn. How often the finest people spoil the finest things they do with an overeagerness for credit.

How eager we all are for approval and acclaim. In a hundred subtle ways, we strive to keep ourselves in the spotlight, marching our personal virtues up and down through the conversation. Vain people that we are, we want to be recognized for our good deeds. But ultimately it’s only the Father’s approval that matters.

Years ago, Alcoholics Anonymous published a little pamphlet titled “Just for Today,” encouraging a list of practices for recovering alcoholics to perform. For example, “Just for today . . . I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count.” Try it. In this Advent season, when we especially strive to be charitable, do your good deeds in secret. Don’t call attention to yourself. It is enough that God knows. —Lou Lotz

Today’s Activity: Do a good deed for someone without telling them.

About the Author

Lou Lotz

Rev. Lou Lotz is a recently retired Reformed Church pastor. Lou and his wife Mary Jean live in Hudsonville, Michigan.

This entry is part 9 of 26 in the series Waiting with Joy