Jump Start # 3361
Matthew 6:3 “”But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
Our verse today comes from that powerful sermon on the mount. The middle section of that sermon, Matthew six, deals with attitudes and worship. The subjects of giving alms, fasting, praying and worry fill this part of the sermon. What goes on inside of us is as important as what goes on outside.
As Jesus expounds upon instructions about helping the poor, He says, do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Literally, that cannot happen. We know when we pick something up with our right hand. We know when we extend our right hand to shake the hand of another. Our hands move as our brains tell them. But the right hand, left hand illustrations are used to describe something very close, intimate and part of us. Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Don’t let the folks in Africa know what you are doing?’ That’s pretty easy to deal with. He doesn’t even say, “Don’t let your neighbors know what you are doing?” We close the doors of our homes and I cannot tell you what TV shows my neighbor is watching or even if he is watching TV at all. Right hand and left hand were a lot closer than continents, neighbors, or even those in the same house. One doesn’t get much closer than right hand and left hand. Right hand and left hand are part of the same body.
So, how is it that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing? What is Jesus driving at?
First, when there is no knowledge of what the other is doing, one is unaware. Jesus is telling the disciples to help the poor. But do it in such a way that it is done in secret as the next verse states. What you do is not to be done before men. There is no bragging here. You helped someone and that’s as far as it goes. Others do not know about it. Others won’t feel jealous. Others won’t feel guilt. They won’t because they simply do not know what you have done. The right hand and the left hand do not know what they have done.
Some will only do something if they can get a little recognition, praise and shout out for what they did. The motive, when that happens turns. Rather than helping someone, you have turned the attention to yourself and what you have done.
Can you help someone out? Just do it. Don’t organize a big campaign, post something on social media and make a big deal out of things. Instead, just do what you can.
Second, in the course of a disciples life, there ought to be so many opportunities to help, share and be generous that one simply does not remember them all. One doesn’t keep track. One doesn’t remind the person helped that you were there for them. The right hand and the left hand do not know what each has done. Meals bought for others. Helping another out on a Saturday. Having conversations that encourage. Answering Bible questions. Giving of gifts. So much done in a life time and one does not keep a record of these things. He just does them. People will come up and say, “Remember, when you helped me out a few years ago,” and the disciple might not even remember. Left hand and right hand. That’s the key.
One doesn’t use the opportunity to help someone as an advantage or pressure to get something in return. I invite you to my house, so you ought to invite me to your house. No. I buy your lunch so you ought to buy my lunch. If that’s the way we are thinking, first, we are aware of what our hands have done. Secondly, our motives are vain and selfish. It’s not about us. It’s not about what we get in return. Help where you can.
Third, most of us have been helped by others. The time when we were young in the faith and someone took us under their wings and helped us grow. Congregations that allowed us the opportunity to lead a song, offer a prayer, teach a class. It was the start of a lifetime of those things. We have been encouraged. We have been helped. Others have been patient with us. We stumbled along at first. We made many mistakes at first, but what a joy to see the growth and belief that others saw in us.
And, as we have been helped, so we now need to help others.
Right hand– left hand. We need them both to function. It’s hard to type with just one hand. My wife can’t play the piano well with just one hand. Hard to golf with just one hand. There are right handed people and left handed people. When it comes to helping others, don’t let others know what you are doing. Just do it.