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February 12, 2023

Anonymous Generosity: Silent Service

Can we really be anonymous in our giving and service? Jesus said: “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). It looks like it is very clear cut: no public display of generosity. Let me ask the question in a more tangible way. If we are focused on giving in the ways of the kingdom of God, should we then disregard the affirmation of our friends when we are serving them? Maybe, we should go around serving others with a mask or a hood over our head so that they can not see that it is us who are serving them. Or maybe, we should just help others virtually, so that the persons receiving our generous gifts won’t know who we are. We could go on and on. The question is: “Do we need to be silent about our service?” I propose a rephrasing of the question. We should focus on our proximity to the kingdom of God. The question, rather, should be: “How close are we to the kingdom of God?“

In the 21st Century, it is very hard or even impossible to practice serving others in the way Jesus describes it in Matthew 6:3. With today’s high speed data transfer and everyone owning a mobile phone with a camera, any act of service will surely move from the left hand to the right hand—everyone knows quickly what one is doing, good or bad. Anonymity is now a near impossibility.

Thus, we ask question: What does closeness to the kingdom of God mean when we are out serving others and practicing generosity? The answer is stated in the question. We focus on the closeness to the kingdom of God. When we are intimate with the King, then our service is full of mercy and comfort. We give help to others, but we know only the King can satisfy them and the peace of God is the only thing that can comfort them. We offer our gifts to our friends, but we also confess that we are fellow travelers and we are poor just like them, and continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness just like them. We practice generosity and a life of service not that people will see our benevolent acts, but so that God will see us. We do these acts of kindness not to hear our friends appreciation, but to hear the affirmation of our Lord, when he calls us sons and daughters of God. We give, help, serve, and become generous because we are seeking the kingdom of God.