arrogant givers

Allow me a convicted, repentant rant for a moment.  Time for me to grow down a little bit.
There is a big push right now (hopefully more than a trend!) in the current generation to care for the needy.  It’s a good push… one that displays the love God has for the poor… and one that helps the rest of us get out of our overly comfortable zones.
But, while reading Matthew 6 this week, I became alarmed at the arrogance of many Christians today who esteem themselves as better followers of Jesus because they are visibly involved in helping the needy.  Our awareness of social plight makes our newer generation of Christians better than the older ones… we think.
It’s simply wrong to claim purity in the push to visible action while dismissing and even degrading the efforts of the generation before.  The current generation jumps to the assumption that not much has been done.  We blindly assume that since we didn’t see it done, then it wasn’t done.  Too many times in recent months I’ve read and heard several believers boasting in the good works of the newer generation while decrying the lack of effort from the prior generation of churches.  This current generation, we say, is the righteous one.  This current generation, we say, is the one God is blessing.  God favors us, we say.  There is something good about us that makes us worthy of the Holy One’s unique blessing, we say.
“Take care!” Jesus says.  “Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.  When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!  I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get.  But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.  Give your gifts in secret, and your Father who knows all secrets, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4 NLT)
The truth is that all generations are sinful.  Every generation under the sun has been rift with trouble.  Each generation has fallen and fought, destroyed and derailed, inflicted and afflicted, objected and neglected.  Look around… our world today is as sick as ever.  We aren’t so great, after all.  The truth is that our current generation is just as sick as any other that has ever boasted of it’s favor before God.
The truth is also that countless numbers of Jesus Followers from prior generations have loved and cared enormously for people.  Some of the most generous Christians who have given the entirety of their lives to the service of others, were – believe it or not- not from the current generation.
The truth is also that we will never know in our lifetime most of the countless numbers of dear-hearted people who served others behind the scenes.
Look, I am all for bashing the abuses of the establishment… but really what does that establish?  Nothing.  It just bashes.  We must not forget to honor and respect those from prior generations who have given from their purses, their time and their hands to care for those in need.  Remember, several of the world’s movements to provide for the poor arose out of the humble, yet deeply strong conviction of Jesus Followers who were born before us.
Let’s, you and me, repent of our arrogance.  Let’s be honored to partner with those who in God’s grace began before we ever thought to.  Let’s always serve from below.  Let’s hold humility rather than pride.  And let’s give with the heart of Jesus.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

5 thoughts on “arrogant givers

  1. Hi Haley, thank you for your heart-felt comment. This is a tough situation. Your story shows the damage that can be caused with some efforts to help people who are in need. I suspect that it is nice to receive food, because you need it, but it is more than food that you need. You need to be uplifted as a person too. And you want your children to be uplifted also. I don’t know that I have very good advice, except to say that God understands your heart, and God knows what you are feeling. Jean Vanier has a great book on this topic called _Becoming Human_ . And this might seem silly, but I wonder if some of these videos from a friend of mine, Wilbur Sargunaraj, would be encouraging (and a bit fun) for you today (check out some of his other videos too):


    Blessings to you today. – Ken

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  2. Thank you for writing that. This morning i had my step mother come over to my house and donate food to myself and my two kids. She never asked how we where. Did even look me in the face. After she made me go get the frozen food from her car. ( which i did’nt care, but she could see that i was’nt dressed) I asked her what she was doing with her day.She looked at my house and said. “Im goig shoping and then Im going to go clean my house. And then im going home to make dinner of a wine tasting party later tonight.”
    She knows how poor i am. And i just thought. Wow way to care about others.Rub it in there face about what a rich will off person you are. I need there help. But not there slandering put downs.And with the holidays coming up im at a lose as to how to handel this gracefully. I have always turned the check. But i feel like both of then are sore for this kind of behavore. Also i don’t want my kids thinking this is not only ok to treat people like this. But its what is expected for family…?
    If you have any advice please send it my way!

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  3. Good words my friend.
    I echo the previous written words …
    Are we giving out of abundance or out of sacrifice? First fruits, or leftover? The first one isn’t “bad” (the gift can still be used), but it goes back to the story of the women giving all that she had while others looked on and scoffed because of the size of the gift, versus the percentage of the gift. A good adage I heard once: give until it hurts, then give a bit more.
    (apologies for straying slightly for the main topic once again … you make me think)

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  4. Great insight, Ken. I would like to add another one. Are we giving to the needy sacrifically? ie. are we really giving up anything vitally important to us, in order to give to others?

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