I recently moved to a nicer office and sent an email around letting everyone know I was now on other side of the building. In the email, I jokingly invited everyone to come over for a “tour” of the new space and apologized that I didn’t have any hors d’oeuvres to share with well-wishers.
Well, I didn’t have any hors d’oeuvres yet.
I was in a meeting that morning, and when I got back to my office, a box of Dunkin’ Donuts sat on my desk. There was a note on it written in all caps that ended with saying, “Happy new office!” The person didn’t sign the note or leave clues about who he or she was, and I was so grateful. Here’s why.
I didn’t feel like I owed anyone, or that someone was trying to get something from me. In fact, I quickly began attributing the good will to everyone in the office and feeling grateful to God that I worked in such a friendly place. It was such a contrast to what I had done at the beach a couple of weeks before.
The tide was steadily coming in, and on the shore, I noticed two nice beach chairs, one of which had a towel on it. The owners were nowhere to be seen, so I moved the chairs again and again as the tide rose. When the couple who owned the chairs finally showed up, I couldn’t help myself. I went over, pointed to the crashing waves, and said, “A couple of hours ago, your chairs were out there.”
“Oh, thanks so much for pulling them in,” the guy said. “We just realized they were out here and figured they had probably gotten washed away.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said, feeling like a lame gratitude panhandler as the words seared my mind: You have your reward.
Throw Away Your Trumpet
Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 6:2, NLT).
Beware of anyone who lets you know what they did for you, and beware of any desire in you to let others know you did a charitable deed. People who “blow trumpets” to announce their good deeds are looking for a reward, and they will resent you if you don’t give it to them.
So, for example, when I went over to the couple on the beach, I was looking for some gratitude. And if the guy had just shrugged his shoulders after I announced my great, magnanimous deed of chair moving, it would have bothered me. It wasn’t enough to let the man wonder who did it — or worse — not even realize it had been done.
Freedom to Receive
When you give anonymously, there’s total freedom. Nobody owes anybody else; nobody’s trying to manipulate; nobody has an agenda. You’re just giving for the sake of giving.
It’s a powerful way of showing real, unconditional love — the kind that says, “You’re valuable because of who you are, not because you have something to give me in return.” That’s the kind of love God pours out on us every day in millions of ways that we don’t even notice. And when we imitate Him through anonymous giving, we increase the likelihood that the recipient will look around, and with no one else to thank, give thanks to the One who deserves it anyway.