True Charity

“When thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” Matthew 6:3

There are some people who want every good thing they do well advertised. If they give money to some good cause, they want to have it noticed in the papers. If they are kind to the poor or relieve some case of distress, they are particular that the matter should be duly published. They take pains that their charities shall not fail to be credited to themselves. But this is not the kind of spirit our Lord enjoined on His disciples. He told them that seeking publicity marred the beauty of their alms-giving; that instead of announcing to all men what they had done, they should not even let their own left hand know that their right hand had been doing commendable things.

Of course Christ did not mean that we should not be good before people, that we should never give alms save where the act would be absolutely secret. It is the motive that Christ was enforcing. His disciples should never give for the sake of men’s praise. Religious acts instantly lose all their value when any motive but the honour of God and desire for His approval is in our heart. We should not even ourselves think about our charities, but should forget them as the tree forgets the fruits it drops. We should train ourselves therefore to do our good deeds without seeking praise or recognition of men. We should not be so anxious to have our card tacked on every gift we send. We ought to be willing to do good and let Christ have all the glory, while we stay back unknown and unrecognized.

Florence Nightingale¹, having gone like an angel of mercy among the hospitals in the Crimea until her name was enshrined in every soldier’s heart, asked to be excused from having her picture taken, that she might be forgotten, and that Christ alone might be remembered as the author of all the blessings which her hand had distributed.