Do diapers swirl down from the heavens, their soft fluff covering sidewalks? Do they settle in drifts on your porch?
The answer is yes. I know because I’ve sampled this rare form of manna.
Fresh from the hospital with a new baby, my husband and I discovered boxes of diapers piled high on the porch of our mobile home. Sorting them into two sizes, we counted thirteen of those big boxes they used to sell before everything was downsized—a fortune in baby-bottom protection. Though we weren’t poor, it was a windfall for us. Our infants were clothed in cloth except on Sunday’s to spare the church nursery workers.
But who were the diapers from?
We searched carefully for our benefactor’s note, eager to thank them. We couldn’t find a card or slip of paper. Nothing was written on the boxes either.
Jesus talks about anonymous gifts in Matthew 6:
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV)
The verses warn givers to be wary. What might begin with a pure motive could end up giving us a hit of praise that goes to our heads. From believing we deserve thanks, it’s only a short step to making our own press—publicizing our good deeds.
Besides earning that title of hypocrite, we forfeit the reward of God. We settle for the little when God has a whole lot better in his storehouse.
That’s a lot of negative for the glory hound in these verses—a lot of incentive to get our eyes off of ourselves. But is there anything positive here?
If you take the vantage point of the recipient, another picture emerges.
We never did find out who gave us the diapers, though we pondered it for weeks, making guesses about all of our friends and relatives. In the end, there was nobody to thank but God. He had taken up the business of handing out manna all over again.
That might have everything to do with the reward Jesus mentioned.
We know God rewards the giver who is motivated by love for Him and for others; He accepts their sacrifice, regardless of the thankfulness of those who receive the gift. But do the get credit for the praise that comes to him through the one who receives the gift?
I’m thinking so, though it might not have the mathematical correlation of, say, doubling or tripling the reward. Their service of gift-giving brings renown or glory to His name. And that’s a biggie. It is our highest calling as a Christian, our greatest act of love.
Gifts that remain a secret have a special staying power. They have a red flag on them that keeps them from being filed away and forgotten. Though our mystery diapers were used ages ago, I still wonder about them. I still marvel at the surprising goodness of God.
I wrote this post as a sticky note for my memory and to inspire me to action. I confess I’ve never given a practical anonymous gift like that despite having had such a good example. I hope to change that soon.
If you would like to make a commitment to serve an unsuspecting person, I welcome your silent company. Then, just imagine the multiplied blessings that might be waiting for the person who left those diapers on my porch so many years ago.
Do you have any stories about a secret gift you (or someone you know) received?