Should we give so that others may notice us?
Many have heard of the giving of the "Iglesia Ni Cristo". For example, they hold the world record for the largest charity walk and the most blood pressure tests given. They have sought out several world records related to charity, so that they can break them. To promote themselves, they have a dedicated show (the INC Giving Show) to present just how much they give. Yet, is all this Biblical?
The INC's giving practices are contrary to direct teaching in Scripture because they focuses on pride and status. God calls us to an attitude of humility and quietness that focuses on pleasing and loving him.
Jesus said we should not be righteous for the sake of others noticing.
Matthew 6:1 (ESV) - "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
In addition to the explicit command that we should not give for the sake of others noticing, we are also told the result of this practice. There will be no reward for such giving in heaven.
Hypocrites give so that others will notice.
Jesus also told us the character of one who gives so that others will notice:
Matthew 6:2 (ESV) - "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
It is hypocrites who let others know about their giving. Their reward is in being noticed. God will not reward them beyond the attention they receive. By "sounding the trumpet" in the form of the INC Giving show, the INC is following the way of the hypocrites of Jesus' day rather than the will and direct teaching of our Lord and Savior.
We should try to give in a way that others do not notice.
Matthew 6:3-4 (ESV) - 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
When we give, we should give in secret. Only when we do not seek earthly recognition will we receive heavenly recognition.
God does not command pride, but humility.
Yet, the sin of the INC is worse. Notice that at the heart of what they are doing is pride and self promotion. What does God say about the proud?
1 Peter 5:5b (ESV) 5 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
It says that God resists or deploys Himself against the proud! The INC is setting itself in direct opposition to God and are opposing what He commands. The verse also tells us that we should have an attitude of humility and meekness that does not seek to promote itself.
1 Peter 5:2 (ESV) - 2 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
We see that the Bible warns against the dangers of pride and self promotion. It calls us to have an attitude of humility and thankfulness to God for what He has done. It calls us to do our good deeds in secret rather than shouting them from the rooftops. We are to have the attitude of an "unworthy servant" who considers it his duty to serve God.
Conversely, the INC has displayed pride and self-centeredness in their giving. They have sought out records they can break in order to show how "righteous" they are. They have gone on TV to proclaim their own goodness by showing just how much they have given. They have been "proud boasters" rather than lowly servants.
All this should bring to mind the words of Jesus
Matthew 7;15-19 (ESV) - 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (ESV)
Examine the fruit of the INC and judge whether they are of God or of this world.