The next piece of advice Jesus offer those listening to the sermon on the mount is this, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” He breaks the advice down into three parts. First, give to the needy secretly. Second, pray modestly and simply. Finally, when you fast, don’t make it obvious that you are fasting. Matthew 6:1-18.
I think it is interesting how thoroughly this section of the sermon has been adopted into modern religious practice in America. We are definitely modest about talking about giving and embarrassed if someone makes to big of a deal about his or her faith.
Why has this advice so taken hold? Is it because it can in fact give cover for not giving very much money to charity, not helping the needy, and not practicing our religious disciplines?