“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” 

-Matthew 6:3-4

If I am a Christian business owner who wants to give a certain percentage of my profits or revenues each year to fund charities and missions, should I keep it a secret? Should my charity work be done out in the open? Should I have press releases that announce to the whole world how much money/time/goods I gave to help others? If I treat my employees extraordinarily well, should I announce it to everyone in order to set an example, and to show my good works?

In my view, these are difficult questions that Christian business owners face.

In Matthew 5:14-16, we find instruction to let our light shine before others, so that the Father will be glorified.

Skip over to Matthew 6:1, and we find caution to beware of practicing our righteousness before others, in order to be seen by them.

Jesus goes on to say basically, that we should not give to the needy, pray, or fast in front of others, in order to be seen by them.

Anyone else confused?

Should Christian entrepreneurs share their acts of generosity or hide them? Which is the best way to glorify God through business?

When I first reflected on these two passages side by side, I was very confused. I pretty much said, “Which is it, Jesus?”

Upon closer inspection, there appear to be several possible distinctions. First, is there a way to let others see my good works, without seeing me, in a way that glorifies my Father? For example, is there a way to do good works through a Christian ministry, such that I remain anonymous, but God doesn’t?

It’s an interesting question, but I don’t think it ultimately leads to a solid answer on the issue as it applies to business owners.

The second distinction is made regarding the motives of those whom Jesus is addressing with each passage.

What are your motives for giving back in business?

When I first had the idea to start a Christian Investing website, I wanted to use it, social media, etc. as a platform to share what God had done in my life. I want people to know that I am different than I used to be… way different. That brings glory to God. At the same time, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to write things just to be praised by other people. This is a struggle that all human beings face. We all want to believe that we are good, and we look for confirmation of that from others.

In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus tells the people to let their light shine so that others will give glory to the Father. In Chapter 6, he is warning us of a trap that we often fall into, which is to do things so that others will glorify us.

The third possible distinction regards the way in which people were making their good deeds known. In Chapter 5, Jesus seems to be speaking to people who are prone to purposely hiding all of their good deeds. In Chapter 6, he addresses people who are literally having parades and announcing their good deeds with trumpets. Maybe Jesus is pointing out the wisdom in taking a more moderate approach. In other words, don’t hide your good deeds, but don’t be a pompous you-know-what about it, either.