Further to the daily email on Monday when I introduced the next section, I want to look again at the 1st and 3rd of the “acts of righteousness” that Jesus mentioned, giving and fasting. We’ll look at prayer on its own tomorrow.
So our passage is Matthew Chapter 6 verses 1 to 4 (giving) and verses 16 to 18 (fasting).
The thrust of the giving section is don’t make a big song and dance about your giving in order to get human acclamation, but rather do it in secret. Jesus uses this enigmatic phrase, ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’, as if one part of you is even keeping it secret from another, if that were possible!The first style of giving gets honour from other people, but the second gets a reward from God.There is an example in the Gospels (Mark Ch.12 vs.41-44) where at the entrance to the temple the rich people give lots of money in presumably a more flamboyant manner, but Jesus notices and commends the poor widow who gives 2 small coins, presumably in a more embarrassed and secretive way.
Now in our modern day, where our giving can be done via the bank, or where the advantage of taxpayers being able to reclaim Gift Aid from the Taxman means we need to know people’s details and the amount they give, it is not straightforward to give completely secretly. However, the principle remains the same, don’t make a song or dance about it, and try to ensure that as few people as possible know what you give.As I have said before, I as the Vicar generally don’t know what people give, though I have had the privilege and responsibility of being a church treasurer previously, before I was ordained. My volunteering next week up at Keswick is to be part of the team who processes the gifts of people who give to the Convention, but we get on with our work efficiently and confidentially, quietly give thanks for people’s generosity and then forget all the details!
Similarly with fasting, when (not if) you do it, just get on with it, and try to do it in a way that other people don’t realise that you are doing it. However, the Lord knows, and that is all that matters.We probably don’t talk about fasting or practise it as much as we should, and I include myself in this. It is an opportunity to deny yourself so that you might come closer to God, and spend time with Him. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, it might just be a single meal, and to use the time to pray and read the Scriptures; perhaps you have a particular decision to make, perhaps it is a more general desire to deepen your relationship with the Lord.
From our extended church address list, we pray today for those from further away who were worshipping with us on Zoom,- Champa- Vikkie, Robbie and baby Nora