“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. 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. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (NLT)
Most of us don’t like ‘show offs’ even as we have to honestly admit we sometimes join their company. Some religious people in Jesus’ day were obvious in their showing off. Whenever they did good, they made sure others knew about it. And as Jesus says, they did get what they sought: public approval. People got helped, they got a good reputation. It was a win for everybody.
However, such public acts of generosity did not impress God. Sure they did some good, but those who did the good things missed out on the inner satisfaction of knowing the God of the universe was pleased with them.
But before we let ourselves off the hook too readily, we are to note what Jesus says about not letting our left hand know what the right hand is doing. This means that not only do we not show off to others, we do not show off to ourselves. We do not secretly pride ourselves on our failure to play to the crowd.
We do not announce our good deeds to all and sundry, and we are careful not to pat ourselves on the back for our own good deeds. We are not to show off to ourselves about not showing off to others.