This part of Jesus’ famous Sermon On The Mount is the basis of both of these spiritual disciplines. He applies secrecy clearly to giving, prayer, and fasting (with clear implication that it applies to other “good deeds” as well), and presents serving others as a given.
When James and John (and their mom) try to get some extra power, Jesus rocks their world with insight about His kingdom--where the greatest is the servant of all.
Jesus spends the whole chapter berating the Jewish leaders of His day for doing almost everything they did for the wrong reasons, and for ignoring God’s favorite ways for people to serve others, which He outlines in...
With three timeless stories, Jesus makes it very clear that we are here to serve others, and that we will be held accountable to do so. He specifically mentions giving shelter, food, water, clothes, and company to those who need it.
When the disciples started arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus told them they had to become like little children and be the servants of all to be truly great.
While this chapter is about being ready for Jesus’ return, the recurring theme is unselfish, genuine, humble, self-sacrificing service.
Memorize a passage from scripture and say it every day for a month. Keep notes about all the ways God brings the passage to mind or you have a chance to share what the passage says, each day. BUT don’t tell anyone you memorized it; just share the truth and move on!
Pray for someone daily, by name, asking God to grow certain spiritual fruit in them--but don’t tell anyone about it until the end of a full month. Then you can encourage them with whatever results you have seen—or better yet, let them notice themselves.
Give someone your lunch money—but don’t let them know it! In fact, don’t tell anyone. Excuse yourself (without lying!) and use the time to thank God for the food and/or money you do have (even if you’re not rich)—and also for brainstorming some new ways to use your various resources and blessings in more productive ways than you normally do.
Do something really hard and really important--like giving some of your very best clothes to someone who really needs clothes--and don’t tell anyone about it. Just see what God does with that gift, and in your heart when you give it. Other hard-but-important ideas include visiting someone who is sick or in prison and encouraging someone who is depressed.
Pick someone close to you and do something THEY think is special for them. Do NOT just randomly do “something nice”. Talk to them and find out what they really want or need, then do THAT. Of course, they will know...but don’t tell anyone else. See what happens.
Help someone you don’t really know at all. (This one can be a “random act of kindness,” but the more focused on that particular person and their needs, the better.) Don’t tell anyone about it--at least not for a long time, and only to encourage them to try it.
Even if you don’t feel like it, do something you know pleases someone you’re having a conflict with. (This may or may not affect that person, but it’s guaranteed to help you feel differently about them—and that makes whatever comes next a whole lot easier.)
Go do something absolutely wonderful for someone who’s been driving you nuts.
Is there something you said you’d do and haven’t done yet? Maybe something you know God wants you to do for someone, and you just can’t shake that feeling? Do that. Now.
Here is a list of ideas to get you started serving people in creative ways. Below is a list of great web sites full of these and many more ideas:
Bake cookies for firefighters. Call a lonely person on the phone. Visit a senior or watch a video with him/her. Pick up litter on the street. Help carry a load. Pay the next driver’s toll or parking feel. Mow a neighbor’s lawn. Drive courteously. Forgive mistakes willingly.
Become a serial “smiler.” Offer at least one compliment every hour. Tip generously.
Tell your mother or father, “I really love you.” Go to the donut shop and buy coffees for the next 20 people in line.
And remember, the more you do in secret, the better...