Whatever happened to the notion of giving for the sake of giving?” asked Tim Harford, columnist for FinancialTimes. “The closer you look at charitable giving, the less charitable it appears to be.” A study of door-to-door fund-raising campaigns, for instance, found that organizations earned far more by selling lottery tickets than by asking for donations.
“This hardly suggests a world populated by altruists seeking to do the maximum good with their charitable cash,” says Harford. At least for some people, there’s a something-for-me/something-for-you approach to giving.
Jesus also dealt with the issue of motives in giving. When He said not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, He was teaching that our motives for giving to God and to others must be pure. Our giving should be in response to God’s love. To encourage pure motives, Jesus instructs people to give and to do good deeds in secret with no thought of themselves. God, who sees everything, will reward them (Matt. 6:3-4).
Our generosity should be God-centered—not to make us look good, but to please the Lord. With your next good deed, ask yourself: If I knew that no one would ever find out that I did this, would I still do it?
Grant us, then, the grace for giving
With a spirit large and free,
That our life and all our living
We may consecrate to Thee. —Murray
God sees the giver as well as the gift; the heart as well as the hand.