The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Teachings of Jesus in conflict?


On the surface, it appears that these two teachings of Jesus are not in harmony. I would deeply value your own thoughts on the matter:

Teaching 1

Teaching 2

So if I give “alms” in secret, letting no one know that I have done so, how can I let others “see my good work” of almsgiving and glorify my Father in heaven?


For mine, I don’t see a conflict but a comparison… God knows the heart and knows when what’s been done on the surface is really a reflection of deeper purer motifs, or that of simply garnishing the appeasements of men etc. So in terms of what constitutes real rewards… attitude determines altitude.


Assuming that what you say is correct, Davo, how do you answer the question that I posed?

Do you presume that it is in accordance with Jesus’ teachings if I make known my giving in order that people may see my good works and glorify God, as long as I don’t do it with the motive of receiving praise for so doing?


Yeah I just get the impression the focus is not so much the mechanics of how this works but the heart attitude driving it that counts. IOW the good you do some will be assumed for what it is… decency in action, that, as opposed to actions that can be seen as being motivated by something less than genuine care and concern. I guess also some of what Jesus said has the historical context of certain practices driven by alternative motives being in play, i.e., the self-impressed chest-thumping Pharisees etc.


Is it possible that “You are the light of the world” is referring to them as a people, whereas, the piety aspect is on an individual level? For example, when someone gives say, a big donation, to a charity there is a lot of praise. But the reality is that money does nothing without the group of people working away and making it happen. A charitable organization has many people working for it, and the organization as a whole should be recognized. But when we specifically call out individuals within an organization and thank them, it leaves many people essentially unrecognized and unappreciated.

This happens quite frequently whether it be a CEO, or in a Church. A pastor, elder may be praised, but the janitor is just, you know… nothing special. As someone who runs sound at my church, who did it for years, I would watch people get recognized for things, and often would skip right over me. My self-esteem is not based on this recognition, but I often do chuckle when people focus on just the “important” position in any organization, effectively proving that they don’t really believe it is the work of all the little guys. CEO’s same thing. A CEO is praised, etc… But who is responsible for his success? We are a community, and unfortunately, the lowest of people don’t get recognition or praise, and if they do, it is often empty and devoid of genuine thankfulness.

Also, to add another point here. When people are officially recognized, they will sometimes come up with speeches and give a “list of people” they want to thank. No matter how thorough your list, you will probably miss people, important people (all people are). I often wonder if going up there and not thanking anyone specifically is the proper way to go about it. Otherwise you can really hurt others.


Matthew 6:1-4 Jesus is referring to those who give in public only to seek vainglory and praise from men instead of doing it to Glorify God. Jesus doesn’t say “don’t give to charity in public” but do so not of praise of men but praise to God as He states in Matthew 5 but He also suggests that if the temptation is there,to give in secret as to avoid the temptation to give for adulation instead of glorification for God.


I’ve assumed chapter 6 is not saying our deeds must be in secret, but that our motive should not be for us to be the one who calls for attention to our deeds, or be done in order to invite praise toward our self. Still, if our good deeds manifest the light, the goodness of many of our deeds will be observable and reflect the goodness of God and bring praise to Him. It seems difficult to think that the Matthean editor who included both these sayings in the same sermon could have perceived them as contradictory.


I think Jesus is just saying “Don’t send people out in front of you with trumpets to make sure everyone knows you’re giving to the Temple…etc.” (which is what I’m told they actually did do). That is obviously giving in order to obtain praise from men. Yet if we do minister to other people, there’s no hiding who did it in many cases. But the exhortation to “let your light shine” was given during the Sermon on the Mount (if I remember right) and Jesus was speaking to the Hebrew people. That was their charter, but they weren’t doing it. They were supposed to be the blessing of the whole world and they had become insular and isolationist. They weren’t being the light of the world. I think maybe at least one purpose of the whole discourse was to show them that no matter how good they may think they were about keeping Moses’ law, it wasn’t cutting it.

That said, I do think it’s important for at least some people to let us know they’re giving. For example, Christian leaders who charge market (or higher) prices for their materials. I find it for me to be a cause of stumbling. It’s hard for me to take them seriously, and I’m afraid they’re using the gospel as a means of gain. If I then learn that they have been donating all (or even a significant percentage) of the profits to some charity, I no longer find the prices to be a cause of stumbling in me. So, for ME at least, I want to know. I have no problem with these folks eating from the fruits of those they bless with their ministry, but I do have a problem with them becoming wealthy as though they were engaged in secular business. Sharing the gospel and teaching ought not be about gaining wealth. Yes they should have what they need to live and provide for their families in good comfort. No, they should not be building mansions all over the country and staffing them with servants, etc. Maybe I’m wrong, but I absolutely have a problem with that. I cannot take the ministry of that person seriously.

SO… if I later find they’re living in the same house they lived in when they started in the ministry and no longer taking a salary from their church but living off the proceeds at the same level as before and donating the balance to fund AIDS relief in Africa (something I heard about Rick Warren–to the best of my memory), then all of a sudden I don’t mind the (to me) somewhat elevated cost of their exceedingly popular literature. Because of this (and I imagine others may have the same misgivings as I do), I do think it’s important for many public figures to be open about where all that money is going–so we little people don’t worry they may be simply running a profitable business whose real purpose is merely to enrich themselves.


[size=130]I thank each one of you for your insightful comments and explanations.
They have been a great help to me.[/size]


Paidion,I think the difference is between the words “alms” and 'light". Alms would be something material as compared to light which is something immaterial. When I give money, I prefer to remain in the shadows so to speak. To me, my material gift seems insignificant in comparison to those who are actually doing the physical work: giving their time, love, care, support, talent, etc. etc.
Besides that,when it comes to charity, I feel very awkward in directly giving someone a material gift. Somehow the relationship seems out of balance. I don’t want the person who receives the gift to feel like he/she owes me something.


Anyone who received money from you as a gift wouldn’t feel that he owed you something. That would be the case only if he regarded your gift as a loan.


Paidion, Then they have lost their sense of gratitude. The kindness should go to someone else in need.


I think this is correct, but I also see where Paidion is going with it. On the one hand the “giver” never wants the “getter” to feel obligated to repay. But, if a “getter” feels no obligation what-so-ever to the “giver” whether it be an offer to repay when able, or “make someone else’s life better”, then the getter indeed has lost their sense of gratitude. Overall, I side with LLC on this, but I can certainly see what Paidion means.


I think the light that is visible to all does not come from the deed but from the soul. The closer to Christ the brighter the soul.

To come closer to Christ is to follow His commands: To love others like He loves us. And thus to live like He did, to have faith like He did and act like He did. This is that way of repentance. This is the way to make our soul brighter and spread the light of the gospel without even speaking.

Here’s the call around which the whole of scripture turns. Indeed the whole of creation turns:

I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.