Be careful not do your acts of righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven. 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. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. -Matthew 6:1-4
Recently, the idea of intimacy has grabbed ahold of me. I say “idea” as if intimacy is not the cornerstone of my faith, and I think that’s the ironic point. After reading this verse, I became distinctly aware of 1. How little I was doing this with or without fanfare and 2. The intimacy this would foster with those you serve.
Imagine, you volunteer at a local women’s shelter and no one knows. Pictures are not taken, statuses are not updated, and, because of the lack of publicity, this isn’t an “event”. Rather, you serve and you speak with people, not causes, but actual individuals with stories and personalities. Without the announcement of your good deed, you become casual and genuine. You form real friendships; you do what Jesus did, and you are equal with the ones you serve.
I can’t help but think, this is what Jesus had in mind when he commanded followers to serve the poor in secret. He knew our tendency to become prideful even in such humble circumstances. So, he made himself clear; he provided a way for us to experience the human counterpart to relationship with him. The secrecy of service inherently begets an open heart and room for love to grow. In the same way he asks us to serve in secret he also asks us to pray in secret, behind closed doors. The level of intimacy and personal relationship is undeniable in Jesus’ words, and the legalism falls away. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp what it means to be “close to God” but Matthew 6 appears to be a good place to start. Go to God in the quiet and provide for the poor in secret, maybe then the noise of the world will fade and we will experience the closeness Jesus promises believers.