In Matthew 6:2-4 Jesus describes a type of giving that is known only to the Father, a giving so unselfconscious that our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing. The idea of giving unconsciously, without keeping a record and expecting the praise of others, is lofty and appealing, but it can be hard to actually live out. All gift-giving requires creativity and even more so does the secret giving described by Jesus.
With that in mind, here are some ways we can give in secret to those outside our home:
- Instead of writing a check to a person or organization, send an anonymous cashier’s check. If sending the check to a friend or family member, mail it from a different zip code than yours. You can even enlist the help of a friend in another state: Mail them your envelope and ask them to send it. On a smaller scale, you can send gift cards anonymously, as well. You can include a typed note that acknowledges the purpose of the gift, which helps the receiver know how intimately concerned God is that their specific needs be met.
- It’s hard to drop off a home-cooked meal anonymously, but you can leave an anonymous note on the door telling that person to expect the delivery of a meal from a local restaurant on a certain day and time.
- Help anonymously with school-related expenses. Secretly pay for a child’s tuition to mother’s day out for a young mom who needs a break. Contact the grade school of a struggling family and ask to fill a child’s lunch account.
- Send a lawn service over to mow the yard of a single mom or ill friend. Or send a maid service to clean their house. Set up the arrangement, pre-pay and then mail an anonymous note to the recipient giving that person the name and number of the person to contact to schedule their appointment. The possibilities are endless here, depending on the size of your gift: House painting, window washing and home repairs could all be handled in a similar way.
- Send movie ticket vouchers and a restaurant gift card anonymously to a young couple who needs a date night. Give symphony or theater tickets to a family that might not ever be able to afford to go. Think specifically about how a particular person or family could be blessed.
- Find little ways to secretly bless your co-workers. Fill the paper tray in the printer. Leave a plate of cookies in the break room. Leave a common area cleaner than you found it. Park in the lousy parking space on a rainy day.
Here are some ways we can give in secret to those inside our home:
- Fold and put away someone else’s laundry, even if it’s not your job.
- Put fresh sheets on someone else's bed and hang fresh towels in the bathroom. Re-stock the toilet paper.
- Mow the lawn one weekday before the person responsible has a chance to do it.
- Unload the dishwasher or take out the trash, even if it’s not your turn.
- Organize a closet that everyone uses. Or organize the garage.
- Clean the baseboards or the air vents. Dust the ceiling fan blades. Clean all the toilets. No one will even notice that you did it, which is exactly what makes it great.
- Even in homes where gratitude is well-trained and properly displayed, most moms or dads have encountered the thought, “There are a thousand things I do that my family takes for granted.” What if, rather than resent this lack of perceptiveness, we view it as an opportunity for secret giving? What if parents keep things clean, operating and paid for without resentment?
Public giving has its place, but so does secret giving – both outside and inside the home. The real trick is to keep no record – to expect nothing in return – for your giving.
Isn’t that a picture of how God gives to us? For our God is a secret giver – He gave us Christ before we knew we needed Him, a secret gift whose value will take an eternity to properly value. He gives us grace throughout our lives in large and small ways that we will not see clearly until glory. Let us live in light of that truth today. Freely you have received. Freely give.