“If I give all I possess to the poor … but have not love, I gain nothing”.
1 Cor 13:3 NIV
To give to the poor is a noble thing. “The generous spirit always commended itself to the apostle Paul; it is one of the marks of the indwelling of him who gave himself for us and for all people. Jesus set his seal on the grace of charity in his vivid parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46). But the implication in his teaching, and in that of Paul who so intimately entered into his Master’s spirit and thought, is that such generosity springs from a loving heart. True giving is Godlike. God loved and God gave. (J. Short, Interpreter’s Bible, Vol10: p170).
But many people who do give generously give from the wrong motive. They do it in order to get noticed. Sometimes there is even the suspicion that their generosity might be a good election ploy and their goodness will commend them to voters in the next council election. At least it will help to create a favourable public image. The apostle Paul wanted his readers in Corinth to be motivated by sincere and generous concern for the less privileged members of society. But he speaks of it, not so much to pour scorn on those who give from ulterior motives, but rather to encourage the Spirit-filled Christian believers to seek to be filled with pure, strong and generous love in all that they do.
The same warning needs to be sounded today. As a disciple of Jesus you should want to give and help the poor. Don’t do it ostentatiously or in a way that draws attention to your generosity. Keep it quiet.
Lord, let my love be genuine and sincere.