MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, Ask the Editor.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky answers a listener who wonders whether WORLD’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion is biblical.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: One WORLD member recently worried that by giving out yearly Hope Awards for Effective Compassion, we encourage Christians to toot their own horns. This member cited Matthew 6:2 about those who sound a trumpet “that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have [already] received their reward.”
We are fine with readers challenging us. So I went back to the Bible before responding. The context of that Matthew verse is important. Just one chapter earlier, Jesus tells his disciples, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Then in Matthew 6:1 Jesus warns them, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.”
What gives? Did Jesus forget what he was saying from one minute to the next? Obviously not.
Jesus is concerned with those who are show offs, who pray loudly in the synagogues and on the street corners, wanting to draw attention to themselves. They fast with a gloomy, suffering expression so others will think them holy. The command to “let your light shine before others” does not conflict with “sound no trumpet before you” — if we glorify God and do not seek praise for ourselves.
The problem Jesus addresses is self-glorification. As an editor, I see a lot of it today. Whenever shootings, disasters, and other sad things happen, one ambitious evangelical leader has his publicist send out notices about his availability for interviews.
I receive hundreds of emails daily from publicists proposing that we write about an organization that has hired them to sound the trumpets. But our Hope Award nominees are different. They go about quietly loving others because God has first loved them. They did not seek acclaim. Someone noticed their work and contacted us to say something remarkable is happening.
In most cases, the founders have toiled without recognition – and done it year after year. They aren’t even eligible for an award unless they’ve been laboring for five years or more.
They are in this to glorify God, not themselves. They want to give themselves to their neighbors, not pile up fame and fortune for themselves.
I’m thankful for them, and thankful to those who nominate them. If you have a nomination for next year’s Hope Awards, please email our reporter Charissa. Her address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.