Vol. 3, No. 8
I am sure you have been very, very hungry before. It had probably been a long time since you had eaten anything. Your stomach was probably growling. You felt like there was a big empty space inside of you. If you live in the United States, this probably only happens when you have not eaten in several hours. If you live in many countries of the world, you may not have eaten in several days.
Jesus can understand how hungry you are. One time he went for 40 days without eating (Matthew 4:1-4). Can you imagine how hungry he must have been? Satan knew how hungry he was. And, Satan was going to use the situation as a way to get Jesus to do wrong. Satan thought he could get Jesus to turn rocks into bread. He wanted Jesus to obey him rather than God the Father.
But, Jesus would not do what Satan wanted. Jesus instead quoted Scripture to Satan. Jesus had studied the Scriptures and obeyed them. He was ready to answer Satan, even when it was very hard not to do what Satan wanted.
When you are very hungry, you may be tempted to do something you should not. You may be tempted to get into food that your parents have told you to leave alone. Or, if you have gone for a very long time without eating, you may be tempted to steal food. This is wrong. That is what Satan wants you to do.
Resist Satan. Do not do wrong. Remember what Jesus did and follow his example.
"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 6:3-4).
There was a custom in Palestine that had been observed many years ago, to which these verses may have reference. When concluding a bargain or when coming to a friendly agreement, the two individuals would extend the forefinger of their right hand and the forefinger of their left hand and hold them parallel to each other. They each would rub their two fingers together and speak the words 'right, right' or 'together, together' over and over.
This practice was to show all around that they had come to a friendly agreement or completed a contract of some kind. This was done in the open so that all could see that each was happy with what they were doing. Thus, they had witnesses to the fact that they both agreed on whatever they were doing.
It is not known if this custom was being done at the time of Christ. But if it were, it would help explain what Christ was saying in the above verses. Our alms to God are not to be done in a way that we make sure everyone sees what we are doing. Our alms to God are to be done quietly and in secret. We do not put on a show so that others are impressed or so that they are witnesses to what we have done in our giving.
Our right hand does not need to know what our left hand is doing when we give to the Lord. Besides, God is a Spirit. There would be no way to do the above custom with God. And we are not making a contract with God nor are we making a friendly agreement when we give our alms. We are giving a portion of what God has blessed us with back to him because we love him and he has commanded us to give.
This explanation is true even if the finger custom was not being done at the time of Christ. Do not make a show of what you give to God. Give to him in love and in a quiet way.