14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
These are red letter verses here people… Jesus said both of these things in the same sermon on the mount! I have heard each of these two points used against each other in arguments. So which is it? Let your light shine so that people can see your good deeds or keep it a secret, private, between only you and God?
I’m not a scholar and I tend to do a lot of interpreting scripture with my gut. Relying on the Holy Spirit whispers that remind me that the word is living and can be relevant to me in different ways as my life evolves and changes. The advice I take can be different than my brother or sister. And the lessons I learn may or may not be a hill to die on. There are few things I hold tight to with a closed fist…
Here’s my humble take on maybe why there are two passages of scripture so close together that express very different methods to love your neighbor. Your eye. “The Hebrew language uses ‘eye’ in many idioms that describe a person’s attitude toward others.” (Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg)
It seems a little too simple to be the be all that ends all answer to this old debate… and maybe it is. Keeping in mind though that love seems to be really important to Jesus according to quite a few bible verses, I’d be willing to guess that He cares about your attitude toward those that we give to. Do we turn up our noses at the guy shivering on the street corner because he obviously doesn’t know how to manage money very well, honestly he is smoking a cigarette, does he even know what those things cost? Then puff out our chests, find the perfect Instagram filter and post all over Facebook and Twitter that photo we took as we tossed a loonie into his paper cup? The problem, as I see it, is not posting that photo, it’s the intention behind it.
Social media is powerful, but just like money it is neutral until we determine how we will use the tool before us. Our status updates and the pics we post can be used to so a lot of good. They can shine light so inviting that people want to join you. We can encourage others to add to the light, whether it’s by joining us on our next “hand out hot chocolate on the street” night, or just tweaking an attitude closer to grace and love for those in need.
If you get nothing else out of this…take away this lesson… always carry a flashlight and don’t play the trumpet!
Chime in here… What are your thoughts?