This is my son Warren’s first year in public school and he’s loving it! In fact the other day I casually asked him if he wanted to be in public school or homeschooled again and he informed me that no way was he doing school at home again… “sorry mom,” he said, “but I can actually understand math now!” …well okay then son!
This past week they had to make Valentine boxes. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it for the sake of this post but I wasn’t that organized and it’s at school now, so no picture at the moment. He made a shoebox to look like a Pokeball (Pokémon) by painting it with red, white, and black. It turned out nice and was super simple. I bought him a large bag of individually packaged Skittles candies with Valentine cards to attach and pass out for their class party.
The evening that he made out the Valentine cards he happened to have his homeschooled sister help with the job. I didn’t think anything of it and heard the two of them spouting out his classmate’s names along with teacher’s names as they wrote them out.
After I had put kiddos to bed that night, I gathered up Warren’s Valentine box and cards and quickly noticed that on the from line where his name should go, it instead read ‘From: Somebody.’ I rifled through the cards and to my dismay observed that each card had been signed in the same way…
Oh boy, I thought!!! He’s made an ex-homeschooler, rookie-Cupid mistake!! I headed straight to my groggy boy’s bedside.
“Warren, um why did you write from ‘Somebody’ on each of the Valentine cards? I should’ve explained it better that your name should’ve been signed on the ‘from line.’ Now your classmates or teachers won’t know the card was from you,” I gently declared.
“Mom it doesn’t matter, it’s just for fun and I’m not worried if they know it’s from me or not.”
I paused for a few thoughtful seconds, “you know that actually reminds me of a verse in the Bible that talks about not letting others know specifically of your good deeds toward them because we don’t need to be looking for attention when we give.”
“See mom I helped you think of that,” he replied with pure satisfaction and was soon fast asleep.
Matthew 6:2-4 says, “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Candy isn’t a necessity, although it is a special, sweet treat every now and then. The above verses obviously aren’t referring to kids celebrating Valentine’s Day with a class party but these verses echo the scene and heart of my son. He wasn’t concerned about receiving recognition, praise, or thank you’s from his cheerful giving; he simply wanted to have fun — without the desire to draw attention to himself in the midst.
Oh how often I tend to be the opposite! I love to give gifts but quite honestly I (selfishly) love the reaction from the receiver as well! Like I want to know that I was able to bless that person!
Giving is a beautiful thing…but if it’s done with the slightest bit of selfish intention it’s not in the best interests of the receiving end. This awareness causes me to take those verses from Matthew 6 into deeper consideration.
I think a majority of my giving goes toward tithing — but if I wasn’t getting to sign my name on my check would I be as excited to turn it into the offering plate on Sunday morning? If the elders, deacons, or church staff didn’t see my name attached to my share of giving would I be okay with that? And I think the harsh reality, as I ponder that idea, is a big no — I wouldn’t be as content with tithing.
Too often I get caught up in the “I’m doing the right thing by giving” rather than being content with being an unknown “somebody” kind of giver.
1 Samuel 16:7b reminds me that, “people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”…Such an important perspective in this.
So as I reflect on this scenario with my son and those Valentine cards from “somebody”, I want it to serve as a heartfelt reminder of the words in Matthew 6 and 1 Samuel 16 — remembering that giving (whether it’s through random acts of kindness, tithing, or gifting) should never include honor and glory for ourselves and it truly shows off best when done in secret for only God to see and for His purpose. Our giving (as Christians) should fully point to God who gave us the best gift through Christ — with unconditional love as His primary motive!