Quiet charity

It’s not too hard to spot charity phonies—you know, people who do something for the community and then leverage every media outlet they and their staff can think of to trumpet that news as far and wide as possible. How much better it is to be generous and help people and let that be the end of it!

I have some friends who love to tell me what they contribute to and how they’ve been recognized. I wish they wouldn’t do that. The only recognition they need is a receipt from the charity for IRS purposes and the approval of their generous Father in heaven who gave them the money in the first place.

Jesus taught his disciples that using generosity to stoke hunger for fame is cheap and unworthy of citizens of God’s kingdom: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). If the recipients of your gifts want to use your name to encourage generosity by others, that’s one thing. It’s another entirely to use the neediness of others to make yourself look big.

Some congregations in the past used to publish the contribution records of all their members. It gives me the shivers even to think about that. Shaming won’t help the low givers to be more generous, and flattering the big givers publicly won’t help them carry out Jesus’ instructions.


Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.


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