For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (NIV) 1 Corinthians 4:7
It is probably easier to do a good deed than to carry out an acceptably good deed before God. The expectations of the Lord in the latter are very much a tall order to accomplish. However, the true sense of good deeds can only be measured by the scale of the Lord who knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalms 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10; Daniel 5:27).
In the Jewish religion (in the Old Testament) the acts of good deeds gradually fell short of the Lord’s standard. The following is a typical attitude of the fortunate/rich at the time of godly deterioration: “O thirsty, come for a drink offering”. Due to the climatic state of Palestine, water was usually obtained with great effort. And whenever a rich man wanted to “do good”, water was purchased in a skin to help quench the thirst of the poor. But the climax is seen when shouting and sounding of trumpets were made to draw the maximum of attention to themselves on the streets.
The poor, however, as always showered their corresponding “blessings”, saying “God forgive thy sins, O giver of water” upon these rich persons for giving them water to drink. It is doubtless, that these men had had their reward already-for their deeds were for public flamboyance.
It was against this backdrop that the Lord Jesus gave a crisp summary on how deeds to the needy could attain a heavenly approval when he said:
“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)
Thus, we learn not to trigger any public approval for the deed that we carry out. Public thanks and flattery (due to the wrong motive) only deny us the blessedness from the Spirit of God. Also, we cannot even claim any self-righteousness for the works we carry out: our left hand must not know what the right hand is doing.
All we have belong to God and we may only have been entrusted with them for a time or for a lifetime. Have we improved in our acts of giving and sharing with others? What are the public and private motives behind our helping hands? May it be far from it, that our acts of good deeds should lose heavenly recognition, that the Lord may be praised!