I live in northern Utah. There is a very wealthy LDS family here who over the years has donated millions of dollars to various causes. You can see their family surname posted prominently on all kinds of buildings and facilities. Yet, I’m curious why they would do that, in light of the Savior’s admonition: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1. What do you think?
There’s a number of reasons why a person would want to give publicly. For instance, grandparents may want to instill a sense of giving in grandchildren. They give publicly so that, even after they’re dead, their descendants can see the name on the plaque and know “my family is a family of givers. That’s what my last name means.” By making it a public memorial, the lesson is passed on even without parents making an effort to do so. Similarly, by seeing the kind of places these donations are made, their posterity can see where their values were.
Related to this is the idea of giving to serve as an inspiration and example to others. I may know that one of the donors has an income similar to mine, and by looking at the public acknowledgement of her contribution bracket, I can see that what I deemed was unfeasible may indeed be possible if I were more generous. Her example would lead me to reevaluate my financial priorities.
Sometimes, heads of large corporations will make a public show of their philanthropy in an effort to foster goodwill. Companies are given a bad name by competitors and on occasion by frustrated consumers. At times they are perceived as “out of touch”. Open philanthropy shows that the corporate leaders share some of the same concerns as their employees and customers and can be used to shape an image.
I think these last two reasons are why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publishes some of its humanitarian efforts. There’s a perception that the Church is a multi-billion dollar tax-free business that harvests the funds of needy members and spends it on things of little value (as the critics see it). The very public aid the Church gives shows that it is a part of the world community, and the salvation it is so concerned about includes a temporal salvation. It also serves as an inspiration for other people and other organizations to give generously.
That’s all well and good, but why would a person (or even the Church) “offer alms before men” if there is no heavenly reward for it? Let’s read on and see what Jesus says:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”(Matt. 6:1-4, emphasis mine)
They (and the Church) give openly so they can have the open reward. These public donors are not denied public accolades that come from their public giving. They have their reward and they get what they pay for. Those who do the same anonymously are openly rewarded by God.
I often find myself thanking Heavenly Father for the many blessings He gves me but not feeling true gratitude when I do so. I see blessings in my life and know that they are from Heavenly Father but I am unable to show or feel true gratitude. So my question for you is what can I do to change that? How can I gain and develop the Christ-like attribute of gratitude or any other Christ-like attribute for that matter.
Thanks for all you do.
It is easy to take the blessings we have from God for granted. Fighting that feeling is a tricky thing to do, but one thing that always works for me is to go out and try to be a blessing to other people. Friends, family, total strangers…especially any enemies. Take the blessings you have, and share them with others, whether it’s time, extra furniture, old clothing, or food for the local food pantry.
Christ set the example in this by being as big a blessing as possible to those around him. He shared his gifts with fellow Jews and the Roman soldiers alike. Social station and career were both irrelevant. Be it a ruler of the Jews, or ten leprosy-stricken beggars, Jesus’ love was extended to all.
As a side note from my own life, in giving of what I have to others, I more fully understand how much I have been given to begin with. The experience brings me more joy than most anything else I do.
Gramps . .
I have been struggling with this for a few weeks now – why is it that my sister, who is totally inactive and drinks and smokes and does not attend any church at all, gets everything she needs when she needs it. For example, her husband got a great raise and they are going to be able to pay their bills and move into a very nice home. I, on the other hand, was married in the temple and my husband and I are active. We pay our tithing and we are doing everything as good as we know how to. But we seem to be hitting road blocks everywhere. I have been praying for weeks for my husband to get a raise and it is not happening. Our finances seem to be going down the drain, but my sister is doing very well. Why is this? I thought the Lord blessed those that followed him. I am very discouraged.
Kami, from Mesa, Arizona (more…)
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