1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Mt. 6:1-4
When the great actress, Joan Crawford, was about to die from a heart attack, it is reported that her housekeeper knelt by her side and began to pray for her. At which Crawford snarled at her, “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”
And yet, this was a woman whom God had blessed with almost everything this world had to offer: beauty, talent, wealth and fame. At the time of her death in 1977, her estate was worth an estimated $2m.
By the time Crawford arrived at the end of her life’s journey at the grand age of 73, she had physically soaked in tons and tons of sunlight, received untold blessings caused by God’s rain and breathed in all the oxygen she ever needed. So much so that even her death was not caused by a lack of oxygen!
And these were just the “bare necessities” of life. God had given her so much more!
I did not set out to write out any negative thing about this exceptional woman. But it is clear that she had written God out of her life. Her attitude probably had to do with the fact that God had never physically hollered out to her from heaven, “Hey, Joan! Do you know that it is I who supplies all this goodness to you?”
When I recalled this story, I thought about the many people in this world who refuse to acknowledge God and yet live – indeed, thrive – off His goodness and kindness. This is something that has been happening for hundreds of centuries, ever since Adam. Apart from the self-avowed agnostics and atheists of this world, even the best of us have at times been doing things that are not pleasing to God. And yet at no single moment, since the creation of the world, did God sort of get impatient and say to us, “Lookey here, you fellows. I feed you, I clothe you and all you do is ignore me and do things that are displeasing to Me!”
More to the point, however, is the fact that at no time did God brag about the fact that it is He who provides for our incredibly multi-faceted existence. In my lifetime I have heard prophecy after prophecy (which is where we believe God speaks real-time) and I have never heard God talk about how it is He who is supplying our oxygen and our food. I find that extremely remarkable.
God quietly keeps in the background. So how do we come to know that it is God who provides us with these things?
God does so by allowing others to speak on His behalf. The Bible, in Romans 1:20 says:
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead”.
In other words, God lets His creation talk – and take credit – on His behalf. It is like allowing your servant to be honored on your behalf. It would require a man of extraordinary self-control to do that.
Everything the Bible says about God tells us about God’s character. Humility is one of the attributes of God. God is extremely humble and He can do every good thing without trumpeting the fact… so much so that many, many people actually think that God is non-existent!
We, too, are called by God for one singular purpose – to carry in us His character. Our lives should therefore be a demonstration of the humble character of God.
The Bible says the character of God in us is demonstrated in a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Pet. 3:4)
It is even so with our giving. We are to give in such a discreet manner that our left hand is left unaware of what the right hand has done! That talks of humility. Such an attitude is of great price in the sight of God.
Doing this, however, requires the kind of self-control that many of us do not have. But God has made a way for us to perfectly carry out this directive. For us to carry out this directive from God in its perfectness, we need to go back to the basics – the cross of Jesus. Jesus said,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat. 16:24)
In other words, Jesus was saying that if any man wants to do what God requires him to do, he has of necessity to
“deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow (Christ)”
When we are taking up our cross and following Jesus, it is easy to do good with a meek and humble spirit. It is easy to present ourselves to God, and not to men.
[The Hillsong oldies are an indescribable treasure]