1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This is one of my favourite passages. I love everything about it. I love that it is Jesus’ words and I love that it comes just before He teaches us how to pray(the Lord’s prayer). What I love most is the concept that giving, especially to the needy, is to be done in such a way that we draw absolutely zero attention to ourselves. NONE. It is a secret. It is THE best secret. When you give to those in need , you do so to bring glory to God, not glory to yourselves.
About 12 years ago we had made plans to go home to our parents’ for Christmas. We had 4 little kids and my husband worked very hard to provide but that was a year of particular financial hardship for us. Our 4th baby had come and life was chaotic, hectic and expensive with 2 in diapers. Our van’s transmission completely died about 3 weeks before Christmas. The cost to fix it was going to be around $1400 and a few extras on top of that. We were shell-shocked. We only lived pay-cheque to pay-cheque and there really wasn’t extra money for any surprises. The money we were going to use to drive to Saskatchewan was immediately put into the repair of our only vehicle. Obviously, there would be no trip. And even beyond that there would be no money for gifts or turkey dinner. All of our bill payments had to be held off until the 2nd pay cheque in the month meaning that we were behind and the only way to get caught up was to pay them all at once leaving nothing for extras.
Not because our kids weren’t going to have gifts but because our plans, hopes and dreams of being with family was gone in an instant. I cried because the burden of not having enough was unbearably heavy that year. I cried because I felt alone.
And then came the secret givers.
First there was one family who asked if they could provide some gifts for our kids. It was so sweet how their kids wrapped items for our kids. And then someone else helped with some groceries and food.
And then came Christmas Eve. We had long come to recognize our church’s generosity, especially at Christmas to families in need. We knew that on Christmas Eve there would be sacks of toys and hampers of food for the neediest in the community. What we didn’t know was that at then end of the night, when all the other sacks were taken away….there were two large ones left. For us. Shocked, humbled, a crying blubbering mess I was. I felt guilty. Surely there were others that had more need than we did. But the Lord spoke into my life and gently reminded me that this is how He shows His love. He sees our needs and He fills them. He sees our desires and He longs to give them to us.
We went home and the kids were so excited. Some of the nicest toys and books were wrapped for each of them. Beautiful toys and even some treats: a gingerbread cake/cookie pan, mix, decorations, turkey and the fixings…so many things…it was like an over abundance…MORE THAN WE WOULD HAVE EVER, EVER BOUGHT FOR OURSELVES.
It was one of the nicest Christmases ever. Just knowing that people cared. Feeling like someone took the time to think of us and consider our kids’ ages and likes~ it was really special.
We don’t know who the givers were(the church let people adopt a family as opposed to the church paying for the items). We had a couple of ideas but we never found out. No one seemed to know…or at least they weren’t saying. And you know, I just love that. I love not knowing because all I do know is that Jesus loves us. All I know is that someone took up being the hands and feet of Jesus. I couldn’t say thank you to a person, I had to thank Jesus. I couldn’t put a face to the gifts…only Jesus.
You see, that is the beauty of the secret gift. That is the challenge before us at Christmas~ we like or dislike things based on who gave them to us. It is natural to judge: “oh, clearly they don’t know us very well” or feeling guilt or an obligation to repay to whomever it was.
This is why I love adopting a family every Christmas. I love to buy special things, wrap them and bless them in Jesus’ name. I love to take the meager list that the agency gives (usually very small and modest) and double , triple or quadruple ….every little item that a family could use at Christmas: At least one large and one small gift for each member, stockings filled with personal items, Festive napkins, decorations, treats, chocolates, Christmasy towels, games, puzzles, coffee, tea and more…..
I never know who receives it or how it is received. It doesn’t matter. I just love going all out and not hearing a peep about it afterwards. Because that’s the Jesus way of giving.
I challenge everyone to adopt a family this Christmas. If you do nothing else, this will be the single most important, significant thing you do.
Contact your local agencies for more information;
Local Child and Family Services