Don’t forget to give, then remember to forget

imagine not knowing what’s on the left side of your body. Well, that’s how generous we should be; give (as if) we don’t know what we gave.

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 

When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—to call attention to their acts of charity! ….they have received all the reward they will ever get. 

But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 

Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Matthew chapter 6, verses 1-4-NLT

Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. All rights reserved.

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drawing of a laptop with GIVE on the screen
graphic from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, stock photos and graphics, affiliate

Stay anonymous?

Have you ever made a charitable donation online or by mail, where they asked you to check a box “make my donation anonymous”? I usually don’t, I’m ok with my name being listed as a donor.

Not that I want people to think I’m a kind, generous person, but so maybe I can encourage others to be kind and generous.

If an online donation prompts a “share to Facebook” I may do that. My motive is to set an example as well as to share needs that someone else might find appealing.

So, what about Matthew chapter 6?

The Bible scripture passage quoted above, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, seems to tell us we should give in secret, not letting anyone else know.

But Bible scholars interpret it less literally. Considering it in context of the whole sermon, they suggest it means we shouldn’t give just to impress people nor brag about what we give, not that it always has to be secretive (although sometimes it should be.)

Giving from the Left or Right

Now I don’t think Jesus was making a political statement here. Nor was he just using hyperbole-an exaggerate statement or claim not meant to be taken literally . But I do think he was using a figure of speech to make a point, although it’s not a figure of speech either.

Because not knowing one side of one’s body is a real thing.

Hemispatial neglect

People with the syndrome of hemispatial neglect experience reduced awareness of stimuli on one side of space. This may occur after damage to the brain as from a stroke or trauma.

People with hemispatial neglect are often unaware of their condition. Friends or relatives might suggest they look to their neglected side but that instruction misunderstands the problem they have with navigating the space around them… people are not aware that something is missing, so why would they seek it out?


So imagine not knowing what’s on the left side of your body. Well, that’s how generous we should be; give (as if) we don’t know what we gave.

(Obviously, if we take that too literally, we might not manage our money very well, which might limit our ability to be generous; we still need to be financially prudent. )

The man who didn’t know what he had done

Every year at Christmas time a classic movie makes it’s way to network television and streaming services. Like many famous movies, the script was adapted from a book, or rather a short story titled “The Greatest Gift” .

George was a man who had a good life until things started going wrong, so badly that he concluded his life had been a failure and he had never done anything right or good in his entire life. He even contemplated suicide.

That is until a mystery “person” came along and showed him how the world would have been without George’s life and good deeds. Poverty, crime,unemployment, alcohol abuse, even deaths would have occurred had it not been for George’s life. And he had no idea!

His left hand didn’t know what his right hand had done.

Of course you know I’m talking about George Bailey from the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, released in January 1947, nominated for 5 Academy Awards, and considered one of the best films ever made. But most people like it because it’s a feel good movie that can make you laugh and cry.

Each man’s life touches so many other lives .

It’s a Wonderful Life

If you’re not familiar with the story, or just want to review your favorite parts, you can ask to join the It’s a Wonderful Life Facebook Group.


Of course, Ebenezer Scrooge of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol didn’t have George’s problem. He knew exactly what he had done to help others-nothing!

It took dying (almost) and three scary visitors to show Ebenezer how stingy his hands had been, never giving anything away, and convincing him that generosity was better than miserliness and loneliness. At the end of the story , both of his hands were busy passing out food and gifts to strangers, friends, and family.

George, Scrooge, and Us

Like George, all of us have done acts of service, kindness, and giving that have made someone else’s life better, whether we know it or not. And like Scrooge, we’ve all missed chances to be generous, to “go the extra mile”, and to treat others the way we want to be treated. And like both George and Scrooge, it’s never too late to cultivate a gracious heart and generous hands-right and left.

Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.

 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 18

I wrote more about Dickens at this link
and at this post about generosity

Living and giving lavishly

Therefore, because God is so generous to us, we’re to be lavishly generous to others. Who has been “lavishly generous” to you?

sharing the HEART of giving

Thanks, Dr. Aletha

please share this post

Generous Measures

My friend Ric Shields wrote a book about generosity, titled Generous Measures.

one minute lessons with a lifetime of value

Read more about it and download a FREE copy . ¡También disponible en español!

Winning on the water-a book review of Boys in the Boat

The 2020 Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 1936 games in Berlin Germany are historic for a different reason. And it involves the often ignored sport of rowing.

Why do we like books and movies about sports? Have you noticed how many sports stories there are? (This post offers multiple affiliate links to sites that offer a commission to this blog for purchases made there.)

Some sport stories are about fictional characters and situations-

  • Rocky
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bleachers
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Million Dollar Baby

But the ones that most catch our attention and our hearts are those about real people.

  • Seabiscuit
  • Chariots of Fire
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Blind Side

Rowing- athletes in a boat

Most of us know something about the big sports, like football, basketball, and baseball. We probably know less about horse racing, boxing, track, and ice skating. But rowing , rarely if ever on the sports pages or television broadcasts, isn’t one most of us know at all.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz. Based on interviews of him by the author, we learn Joe’s painful early family life, struggle to pay for college, and the grueling physical challenges of preparing for competitive rowing.

At that time the sport of rowing was dominated by the sons of wealthy families and the Ivy League colleges they attended. By contrast, the University of Washington athletes who made up the 1936 Olympic rowing team came from working class families and had to work their way through college. That they did so in the midst of a depression makes their achievement even more remarkable.

You may be surprised to learn how much the sport of rowing physically and mentally challenges the human body. To be competitive, the crew’s eight rowers must work synchronously as the leader, known as the coxswain, calls out commands to set a pace that is fast enough to win but sustainable for the length of the race.

Nazi Germany’s Olympic games

Interspersed in the boys’ stories, Daniel Brown outlines the events unfolding in Germany, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. As part of their plan to dominate Europe and eventually the world, they plan to make the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin a showcase of German wealth, knowledge, power, and athletic ability. Specifically, Hitler hoped the German rowing team would beat England and Italy, the teams historically likely to win. The story of his reaction to an American team that not only challenged but upset the status quo completes a book worth reading.

My reaction to Boys in the Boat

From reading this book, I gained an appreciation for this sport that I previously knew nothing about. My husband and I listened to the audio book while on a 12 hour car trip and it kept us interested and entertained. We were inspired by a story where perseverance, courage, loyalty, and commitment were celebrated and rewarded.

This story proves history lessons aren’t dull, boring, or outdated, but can offer us information and inspiration to help us explore the HEART of health

the BOYS OF ’36 documentary

A PBS video documentary The BOYS OF ’36 is available on Amazon Video, free with Prime or available to rent.

Your comments welcome

If you read the book or watch the video, please contact me with your thoughts. I might use your comments in an update.

Dr. Aletha
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