We have all seen them; booths set up outside of toy stores beside a Christmas tree full of gingerbread men colored by a child who has made a request for a toy and was added to the tree by a mother or father who cannot provide the joy they want their child to have on Christmas, and it is placed there with the hope that someone will help to keep the joy and wonder of Christmas alive in for their child.
And so as we take a gingerbread man off the tree and enter the toy store, we enter with perhaps a kind of euphoria of mixed emotions; surely of joy the act of unselfish giving brings when we have the courage to look past the little that is in our wallet and into the need of another human being, and surely with the emotion of the warm feeling the memory of reliving our own childhood joys brings as we search for a toy we're sure that, if it would have given us joy as a child, it would then bring joy to the child we are giving to.
Then, as we leave the store, full of the good we have just done, perhaps there is an inner voice saying, "Oh, I can't wait to tell so and so about the toys I just chose" and "Won't so and so think 'Secret Santas' is the best thing ever? I've just goottt to tell them because they might want to give as well!" And so we pick up the phone to share the giving spirit....
But is it the giving spirit we are really wanting to share, or is it, perhaps, that our courage needs witnesses? And if that is true, then have we given with a Christ-centered heart? Have we given because we are admonished as Christians to be our brothers' keepers or has our act of giving been just another tick off the list of acts we view as making us a "good" person?
The Bible tells us that real giving for Jesus is done in secret so that no pride is involved. With real Christian giving there is no room for pride because the love of Jesus floods the act.
It is not wrong to have a sense of satisfaction within ourselves that we have done what we know Jesus would want us to do for our brothers and sisters; indeed, another word for that satisfaction would be "blessing". When we give to others only with Jesus and the need to share his love with our fellow human beings in our hearts, the blessing of obeying His commandments can fill our souls like nothing else can, but when we do good and spread around the knowledge of the good we have done, it might cause some adverse effects which would not be what God would want.
When we make our good acts known to anyone who will listen, it may, in fact come across to others as a show of pride through the act of giving we have done; which could both cause us to look insincere or to even appear as a "goody-two-shoes", if you will. And perhaps the very act of "blowing our own horn" could cause others to view giving as "silly" or "fake". Therefore, the call of God through the natural inclincation for others to be giving might go unheard and blessings for their lives and for the lives of others may be missed because they don't want to appear "silly" or "fake" themselves.
By all means, especially at Christmas, giving to others should be a priority for all of us, but before we reach into our pockets or wrap up a gift for a needy child, perhaps we should first spend some time with God and searh our souls for why we are giving.
To give with Jesus in mind and our love for others and our desire to bless is to "do good and disappear". Real giving should be between the Christian and Jesus only. Then, to stand back in the shadows and see the joy of what we have given of ourselves for Jesus is the real reward. If we are standing in front of our gift, the light of Jesus won't be seen behind it.
Giving as Jesus would have us give is a courageous thing; both because often it is a real sacrifice financially, but also because it takes courage to do good and then allow only the love of Jesus to shine rather than ourselves.
Real courage and true giving do not need witnesses.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.