Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
- Matthew 6:1-4
When the fund raising for the earthquake was going on in our University, there were boards all over the place giving us details on how much each class, group, department and college had managed to raise. Obviously when there is a fund-raiser going on, such information helps raise more.
Unfortunately this has some side-effects. The saying "from each according to his ability" is taken a step further in China. And since everyone knows how much everyone else is putting in, this means that you cannot donate more than your senior officer/co-worker does.
When we printed the banner "People of Wenchaun, we are with you", the printers didn't charge us for it. They said that just our willingness to do this was payment enough. The same happened when we had to scan a copy of the receipt of the Red Cross payment. When we were looking around for a good channel to put the money through, everyone we talked to were surprised and expressed thanks for our thoughtfulness.
We also wanted to do a print-out of the Indians donating the money for the earthquake relief fund. Just to let people know that we do care and that there is no need to be surprised. Especially now that not many people in the university hold a high opinion of the foreign students here.
What about Matthew 6:3 then?
No, we didn't start it all with thoughts of any rewards coming our way from any of the people around us.
But can we just opt for the reward from the people instead of the reward promised when a deed is done in secret? A reward of recognition and respect. Yes, a conscious option for a lesser reward. But we can, can't we?