Thursday, October 25, 2012

Public Rewards

Every now and then, the media will trumpet a major act of philanthropy.  The philanthropist is splashed all over the news because of the amount of money that was given away to a cause or an organization.  Sometimes, as we walk around the campus of a major institution such as a college, and see buildings that are named after a donor.  Not all buildings named after someone means that they were a major donor; however, there are times when putting the donor's name on the building is a stipulation of receiving the funds.  As humans, we like to receive accolades for the good we have done, but Jesus turned the tables on that thought during His Sermon on the Mount.  Please read Matthew 6:1-4.

In these verses, we read how Jesus pointed out that our focus shouldn't be on receiving attention here on earth for the good things we have done.  He points out that if we are seeking attention for our giving, then we have missed the point in why we give.  We should be focusing on pleasing our Father in heaven, not pleasing the world.  Jesus basically pointed out that if we are seeking reward here on earth, then we have turned our focus away from God.  Have you noticed how Jesus keeps showing us that our focus easily shifts from God to ourselves?

The problem is that it is really easy for us to shift our focus without even realizing it.  This is because our "reward" comes in many different varieties.  It could be that our reward is public admiration.  We want others to see that we are very generous and we are obedient to God's call to help others.  Maybe our reward is control.  If we are giving a large sum to our local church, perhaps we feel that our opinion matters more in major decisions.  Maybe when we are giving, we are expecting something in return from God - isn't that focusing on our heavenly reward?  But even that attitude shows that our giving is still focused on ourselves rather than focusing on giving to God and pleasing our amazing Creator.  God doesn't want us to give for personal gain; He wants us to give because we want to obey and trust Him.

Where is your focus in giving?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

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