“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 NLT
These few verses above haunt me…oh there are others within the pages of the Bible that cause me more stress in the sense of truly trying to live them out…but these are right up there!
To explain, I need to put you into my world. Running a non-profit means needing to tell the stories ALL THE TIME because it is the major way in which people connect to what we are doing, get involved, and for that matter, donate. And no, this isn’t a plug…it is more of a confession.
Even a board member the other day was telling me we need to do more to “connect people to what we are doing” which is fully true…but how do we do this without sharing the stories…or more accurately, telling the right hand what the left hand has been doing.
I get that Jesus was specifically speaking about those who stand in the public square and loudly proclaim how they have helped out…or make a public show of giving money to those who are less fortunate. In today’s world, we hire a public relations firm and call the very same thing “marketing” and then we need to convince ourselves this is okay.
And maybe it is…after all, if we don’t tell others about these stories, how will they know they have an opportunity? That they can get involved, or know their gifts do provide needed supplies, or that someone is needed to pray? If we don’t ask…how will they know? Sounds good but…
The confession is that I hate to tell the stories AND I love to tell the stories…at the very same time.
I love the stories because I want people to know how anyone and everyone can make a difference! I want more people involved! I have seen what happens when a group in a community “get it” and begin to make a difference in turning a community around! When you have opportunity to sit down with a group of kids who were just given a place to live where they will be loved and cared for, it changes lives forever! When you have invited a young woman to leave a life that leaves her feeling used and step into one in which she is cherished…wow!
And how do I convince them without examples? Yet the very people who receive the help run the risk of ceasing to be “people” and become projects or worse, they become “people in need” or “broken” or disenfranchised or underprivileged or abused or at risk or …well you get the idea.
The truth is these are all God’s kids! They may not be in any sort of relationship with Him…but He loves them and calls us to help, to serve, to feed, to clothe, to visit, to help to bind their wounds and carry them to someplace safe until they are healed…
Unfortunately, that takes resources. People, volunteers, supplies, time, vehicles, food, stuff…and yes, sometimes money.
So we tell the stories of how this has happened or that has happened because of what we were blessed to be able to do because of “the gifts of others”…and a photo of a little girl is used here, a family story is used there, more pictures, add video, cue music…
And we pray…we pray for ways of meeting the needs…yes the needs of the organization must be met or the organization ceases to exist…but what is most important is the needs of the people Jesus calls us to take care of. In my mind I now have thousands of pictures and movies…of lives destroyed by evil…evil in the most ruthless of fashion…and it has left the marks on my heart. I’d love to sound spiritual here but the realities for me is I work hard at “giving it all to God” and yet many, many nights I am awake because of the photos, movies, and stories in my mind and heart. The need is so great, the evil we are facing is so great…and yet “He is who is in us is greater!”
And we pray! We pray we never, ever, ever forget the people…God’s kids…we don’t want to forget what is faced every day by families trying to live in a fallen world. We won’t forget abused children, wounded vets, damaged spouses, crumbling neighborhoods, those without homes and families…
So yes, we tell stories, we call for volunteers, we seek out places to engage others, we ask for donations…and we trust that in the same mysterious way which God “forgets our sins” our left hand and our right hand lose track of what the other is doing!