Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Almost Anonymous (Luke. 8:2,3)

and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means. (Luke 8:2, 3 NASB)

In this passage, Jesus was traveling from city to village, proclaiming the gospel. He was accompanied by the twelve apostles, as well some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. They were apparently women of some means, because they helped to support His work from their private funds. Little is known about most of these women. Only three are mentioned by name. Their gifts to the work of Christ, however, were important enough to merit mention in Scripture. 

According to these verses, the women had experienced miraculous healing at the hands of Jesus, and they were staying close to Him. Women of means likely were accustomed to servants and comfort, but that paled in importance next to being a servant themselves.  They viewed the work He had done in their lives as of such significance that they willingly contributed both time and money to His cause, enduring hardship along the way. 

In addition to the three mentioned, there were "many others". These women were not seeking recognition, and did not need their name listed as a sponsor. They gave to Jesus, and did it without publicity or public commendation. At the time, all they had in exchange for their service was a spot in the crowd, or so it seemed. In reality, they were storing up treasure in heaven. More than two thousand years later, we still remember their gift.  For some of those women, their name was remembered only by God, but that was more than enough. 

Jesus spoke of this kind of anonymous (or almost anonymous) giving on more than one occasion, and His words are worth reviewing. 
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4 NASB)

Did you get that? There is something very powerful and very blessed about giving "in secret". When we give "secretly", God sees and rewards. It's like a transaction between us and God, with no middle man, and it is great fun!  There has been much written in recent years about "random acts of kindness", doing small acts of aid and kindness anonymously and mostly in such a way that the giver is neither seen nor known. It is a very Christ-like way of giving, and worth a try. 

How about our giving? Do we give with one eye on the tax receipt or do we give freely, without regard to personal benefit? Do we give without recognition? In God's economy, some of the best giving is that done anonymously, or nearly so. 

Today, pray for a giving heart, then make an effort to give to someone in need, and do it in such a way that only God knows it was you. The results and the effect in your life and in those around you might just surprise you!