“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
– Matthew 6:2-4
I want to talk to you today about the power of secret goodness and bold sin. Now, before you freak out and think how strange that sounds, I assure you that it’s actually an old idea that has its roots in Jewish culture. Jesus taught about it in Matthew 6 when He advised His followers to give without letting others know what they were doing.
I need to establish up front that this is not a law or a requirement. I certainly don’t want legalism to creep into it; however, I believe it’s a good idea to take account of our “sin” and “good works” practices once in awhile to bring some balance to our spiritual lives. Here’s what I mean. Most of us, when we sin and do things that we know we shouldn’t, do those things in secret. We don’t go around telling people that we are coveting our neighbor’s car or that we are addicted to a substance — when we sin, we hide it! This is why Martin Luther said, “If you’re going to sin, sin boldly!” Contrary to this behavior, when we give money to someone in need or sacrifice our time for another, we tend to want to let people know. Nowadays, this might look like posting on social media or casually mentioning it in a conversation with friends or coworkers. However it happens, Jesus advises us, as bearers of His Name, to do our good deeds in private. This is why I encourage you to change your thinking and let your tongue talk more about your weaknesses and less about your benevolence. When you do, you will find that your secret “stuff” becomes less shameful and your good deeds less brag-worthy.
Friend, when you get comfortable being honest and vulnerable about your sins and struggles and hold your tongue when it comes to boasting, you will develop balance that keeps you humble and enables you to connect more deeply with others. Arrogance is isolating, but vulnerability is magnetic; it draws people to you and gives you an opportunity to share the source of your hope and salvation. Since you are accepted and unconditionally loved, Jesus gives you the courage to be transparent. Even better, when you are honest about your sins and become accountable to others, wrongdoing loses its power over you. Isn’t that fantastic news?
Jesus, humble my heart and give me courage to be honest about my struggles and hold my tongue when I am tempted to boast about my good works.
Do you “sin boldly”? How do you feel about this idea? How might Jesus help you?