In my book Money, Possessions, and Eternity I suggested sharing giving testimonies in order to help Christ’s body grow in giving. I once objected to this—and many still do—because Jesus said, “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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4).
But in an appendix in the same book, I explored that verse in context of its chapter, and made the case that in the church we need to take the risk of openly telling stories of what God has done for us in the arena of giving. Though we must always check our spiritual pulse, sharing certainly does not have to be an act of pride.
If you’re interested in listening to my thoughts on this, here is a video I recorded several years ago:
There’s still a lot of pushback on the idea of sharing about our giving, but not as much is there was 30 years ago when the first edition of Money, Possessions, and Eternity came out. I think people are realizing giving isn’t the only thing people are tempted to be proud of, and in Matthew 6 it’s inseparable from prayer and fasting. We shouldn’t do anything to glorify ourselves, but if nobody ever says they are praying for you, or that they fasted over the struggles of their church, or they decided to give the proceeds of their garage sale to missions, then the body of Christ will be impoverished through lack of examples. We are to let our light shine in order to glorify not us but our Father.
Most of us know who the prayer warriors are in our churches. And if you want prayer or want to learn to pray you can approach them. So why not giving warriors? Bible study warriors? Fasting warriors? Helping the needy warriors? Jail ministry and prolife warriors?
When a pastor preaches on purity, don’t we need to hear what steps he takes to guard his mind and heart? When he speaks on evangelism, is it wrong for him to tell us how he shared the gospel? Or how about when he shares what he does to cultivate his marriage, or how he spends time in God’s Word?
If we abstain from teaching or preaching or telling stories about anything that could tempt us to be proud, we’d have to pretty much not speak at all. And if all we did was talk about our failures and things we aren’t proud of, then we’d be tempted to be proud of our transparent self-effacing humility. I told nearly 100 short giving stories in my new book Giving Is the Good Life. But had people not shared those stories in some public forum, such as a book or conference or blog or video, I couldn’t have used them to encourage and challenge others.
My hope and prayer is that in the body of Christ, we will humbly and joyfully “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.