"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 6:2-4 NASB)
In Matthew 6:1-18 the primary teaching is against hypocrisy. Now clearly we glean more than just that, but even the 'the Lord's prayer' is an example of how to pray without hypocrisy. It is also important to note that there is nothing which seems to infuriate God more in the New Testament than hypocrisy. The Matthew 6:2-4 we hear the admonition to not let others know that you are giving to the poor. As it was stated in the last post, you can do pious acts for the purpose of being respected, and giving to the poor is certainly one of those pious acts. The purpose of giving to the poor is for the Glory of God by showing that He is a provider to all who have need. The moment in which you bring attention to your own act of giving to the poor you have robbed God of the Glory He ought to receive.
I serve on staff at a church which I attended before I ever was a Christian, and when I became a believer I looked across our congregation and wondered 'what the heck is going on?' I mean, are we not supposed to be out doing evangelism, and are we not supposed to be engaging in feeding the poor, and supporting widows and all these wonderful tasks. Should people not be studying their bible more, I thought, 'What is the matter with these people?' New believer read closely here, you most likely will never know who the most faithful believers in your congregation are because they are not placing themselves on a pedestal to be seen by you, what they do, they do in private and they 'do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.' On the great Day of Judgment you will see many people paraded before you to receive great reward, and you never would have guessed that they were so pleasing to God. What is done in secret is very pleasing to Him. I remember being very new at my current position and counseling with a youth who has a real heart for the Lord, and we are both the type who cannot really sit still so we just walked around the church talking. He expressed all this frustration and disgust in the state of the church, and how it seems that nobody takes seriously the call to discipleship and so on... and for the most part I agreed with him. However as we walked around the corridors of our church I stopped, and I bent down and picked up a piece of trash that we had walked by at least 6 times and both had seen. There are a lot of people who come into our church throughout the week and quietly serve the needs of the church unnoticed out of their love for Christ, and these same people go into the world and serve people in the name of Christ entirely unnoticed, and those people would never have walked by a piece of garbage in our facility without picking it up. Now it is just a piece of garbage, picking it up is no act of piety, at the same time walking by it with no care talking about how spiritual you are and how unspiritual the rest of the congregation seems is an awful display of hypocrisy.
Do not sound the trumpet, do not make yourself known, do your acts in secret. Who cares if some young youth director or youth looks at you as though you are derelict in your discipleship, that young man or youth are too immature to perceive the hidden work, and will be embarrassed on the day of judgment when gives you a greater seat than they at the banquet.
As a worker at the Church I have also come to notice that often times the most publicly involved people seem to be the least spiritual. This is not a rule or a sweeping stereotype, and public involvement is not a bad thing, but it is not necessarily that noble either. There is a place for public leadership and involvement, and some of us must take that place, however that is not place of great honor.