Horns and Hands
JESUS is giving examples of how we can be mature in living the changed Life He gives by following Him so we attract people to Him, not drive them away.
It doesn’t matter whether people were literally blowing horns in the street when giving to the poor in ancient Israel. Even today we immediately get the picture that calling attention to your giving makes it about you, not the one you’re supposedly helping. JESUS is a master of irony and that’s what He is using here to contrast the attention to ourselves being the reason we give.
Horns were only blown in Israel to tell the people change was underway. Either a holiday like New Year’s when all sorts of special preparations had to be made or preparation for war or a special announcement. Horns meant commitment to change.
But those giving to others but calling attention to themselves were hypocrites. They acted like they were going to change the lives of those they gave money to. But they weren’t. Their motivations hadn’t changed because their motivation was still themselves.
JESUS calls us to allow the Spirit of GOD, given when we give ourselves to JESUS, to change us. If we are willing, with GOD’s help, we will give out of love and the Father will return what we give in surprising ways.
Secrecy is part of the fun of most children’s games. And GOD is calling us to make almost a game of giving. How much can you give secretly? And how will GOD return it to you to allow you to keep giving in His Name?
We don’t give expecting the money back. We may never get it back and it may not be money that we give. It could be time or food or something else material. But GOD’s reward is that He always replenishes the ability to keep giving even if it’s love and support. We are not to donate to a ministry with the idea that GOD will bless us with more money but in the knowledge that nothing we do in love will go unnoticed by our Father. And it is pleasing Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, because of what JESUS did to return us to the Father, that drives why we help others.
The left hand was considered to be the weaker hand and less dignified, even evil. Middle Eastern countries wipe themselves, after doing what all humans do in private, with their left hands and eat with their right. Perhaps if our less noble, left handed, nature knew what the right hand planned to do or give in righteousness it would try to prevent it.
Love suffers strategically. It counts the cost and gives sacrificially, knowing the effects of the loss but suffering it out of love for another.
I do not declare charities on taxes. Mostly because I prefer to give to individuals in need, not organizations. But even when I donate to tax deductible organizations I don’t declare it. Some say they do so they have more to donate but then they declare it again and they are repaid. They have their reward. I prefer to make a game of it, giving so my Father knows but no one (other than absolutely necessary) else knows. Then I wait to see what He will do, now or at Home.
Love is sensibly extravagant to those in real need. It suffers wisely. Then, having done so without fanfare (a word that originally meant blowing horns before events), or left-leaning selfishness or pride stopping it, Love waits and asks with a giggle “What will Daddy do? How will He restock the cupboard so we can play again?”
“”Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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.”
Matthew 6:2-4 ESV