Matthew 6: 1 – 4: “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound not trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their rewards. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
We all know there are different kinds of people. Psychologists tell us people can basically be divided into 5* types based on personality. Although people come in different sizes, colours, shapes, amount of hair, and personalities*, I believe when it comes to philanthropy – only two kinds of people exist. 1) The ones who do good deeds in silence and wait for their rewards to come from above, and 2) those who do good deeds and shout from the rooftops and want their rewards [there and then] and praises from people. Philanthropy, in this sense, is not just about money and the poor in one sentence, it is about doing a good deed for another human being without necessarily expecting [monetary or otherwise] payment.
The former are people who’d offer help without second thoughts. They offer help without wanting anything in return. They offer help and don’t expect eternal gratitude. They offer help without public displays of ‘look-at-me-I’m-soo-good!’ They are the ultimate hostesses when they host a party: they give until there’s nothing left to give, from food to board to entertainment to you name it. You will never tell who these people are unless you are lucky enough to have one in your life. They are so down to earth other people sing their praise and they don’t bathe in that glory. They are the kind that do good deeds and forget about it, in fact when you remind them as a thank you they genuinely don’t remember. They don’t drop names either whether they are doing the good deed or receiving the good deed. I think they are the happiest of humans.
Then there’s the other kind of people. The holier than thou kind, who sing their own praises and walk around in imaginary halos. They claim they are destined to be prefects in heaven because of the good they do on earth. They clearly haven’t read the verse above. These people are not only dangerous, they are poisonous. They are the kind of people who will do you a favour, and spend eternity making you pay for it. They will remind you at every opportunity how much they helped you, and how were it not for them you’d be dead or worse – if such a thing exists. Don’t get me wrong, these people are kind and generous, but their kindness and generosity is double-edged. Nothings comes from nothing is their motto. They don’t do things from the goodness of their heart, they do things for the goodness of their reputation. They will stand there like butter won’t melt and expect you to announce to the world all they’ve done for you: they will want you to declare that, were it not for them you’d be nothing and no one. Sometimes these people will hear about someone’s success and preach how they made that person what they are. They will claim it was their doing that the person is successful: don’t be surprised if they say things like ‘how people are ungrateful’ …. because the successful one isn’t owing their success (in public) to them.
These ones if you sing their praises as a thank you they ask you to do it in public. The majority of people in this category are very good first responders. They want to be the first ones in a crisis, so they can tell the universe how was it not for them, the person would be past tense. They are arsonists and firefighters all in one.
Beware of these people and those you associate yourself with; be honest with yourself and which group you belong to. Human nature, however, is complex and without different behaviours and tendencies to tell us apart, how would we judge one another. That right! I said it! We humans love nothing more than judging one another: those preconceived ideas we have about people, those defence mechanisms scientists tell us are in-built so we can protect ourselves, as much as that is true it’s also because we judge one another based on many other issues. E.g. some white people would instinctively cross over the road if they see a tall black man walking towards them! Definitely a topic for another day. In the end some people walk into a room and announce, “here I am!” others walk in the same room and say, “there you are.” There are people you want to drink with and people who make you want to drink. Choose wisely.