“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
- Matthew 6:1-4
“Virtue Signaling: the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.”
- Oxford Language
I know, I know, I know. This is the season for giving.
I know, I know, I know. The bank, the automobile manufacturer, and the sandwich shop that I am thinking of advertise how much they give year-round. They just pay more for advertisement in December, or it seems that way.
As for the bank, I mute the commercial every time. What the bank has to say is printed on the screen. The audio is a piece of music that drives me nuts. My son teaches elementary school music. When I went to music class, back in the dark ages when we wrote on stone tablets (just kidding), we sang songs in music class. I finally played the bongo drums for one program in sixth grade. My son teaches the children, in an impoverished neighborhood, how to compose music, even with the kindergarten kids. It may be simple music, but they could do a better job than the composer of the music for the ad. Who knows, maybe the composer got millions.
The words are poignant. “I had a dream that some day I would fly away.” There are a lot of ways to interpret that. Someday, I hope to be with Jesus, and I could care less how I get there. But the people who sing the song may consider themselves oppressed. I have plenty of reasons to be oppressed, but I choose not to feel that way. I am not defeated because I have Jesus. I am victorious and anyone who has Jesus in their hearts is victorious, regardless of their earthly circumstances.
Now that I have trashed the musical composition, both the total lack of a tune and the lyrics, what the bank is saying is that they do not show prejudice toward people of color regarding loans, or to women, or to children, and they support the Paralympics. Talk about virtue signaling! The video scene of a swimmer in the Paralympics shows the bank’s logo on the wall of the natatorium claiming to be the title sponsor. But for the others, since they give loans to all the special interest groups, I doubt if I could get a loan there. Is that not prejudice? And if you are making a big deal out of not being prejudiced, is that admission that before these special interest groups had a voice, you were the leaders in denying them loans? Otherwise, why would you think of making a commercial dedicated to not being prejudiced? Do you really think we are that stupid? Don’t answer that!
An old friend at the NASA project in northern Mississippi in the early 90s said that everyone is prejudiced. Those that do not think they are prejudiced are the most dangerous. I agree.
As for the automobile manufacturer, they brag every month about how they give so much to a variety of charities. They quickly show the charities in a blur, hoping you just note that there are a lot of them. My cable (very, very basic cable – nothing but the free channels, but I pay for the privilege) has a remote where I can freeze frame. I would never, never, never buy a car from that company in that I refuse to support some of their charities. Ah, virtue signaling can backfire!!
Then there is the sandwich shop that advertises that they will give some of their profits to feed America. All you must do is buy a sandwich on one particular day or weekend. They get a spike in sales on that day or weekend, they are still making money, and they get the brownie points for the donation. The charity that they support is one that my wife and I have supported. I have no problem with that, by I have heard that their sandwiches are overloaded in oil/vinegar to the point of getting soggy. Or maybe that was just a couple of reviewers having a prejudice.
But the Scripture talks about prayers, pompous public prayers. They have gotten their reward in full. The same goes when you make a big show about the money you drop into the offering plate. I remember when a volunteer that collected our glass jar for Haiti children picked up the jar one day and some coins made noise, rattling in the jar. He made the point of stopping the Sunday school class to complain that someone had dropped coins into the jar so that everyone would notice when he or she did so. Then an 80+ year-old lady said, “No, I forgot to get some paper bills to place in the jar. Do you want me to take the equal amount in coins back?” The volunteer turned red in the face and shook his head. As for the Haiti children, our church started by sponsoring a couple of Haiti kids, using the children’s donations to Sunday school. But then the adults wanted in on it. But, every week, everyone in class usually contributed a dollar each. Now the church sponsors 30+ children. And would you believe that some lowlife stole the money from the jars a couple of weeks ago?
No, these companies have been rewarded, paid in full. If they were not making money as a result of their virtue signaling, they would not be doing these charitable things. If they did not get a tax break, they would not contribute. All the feel good stuff goes away if there is not money to be made. The employees could do that on their own time, but not the corporation.
I worked at a huge plant, about 25,000 employees. United Way hit us up first. Each manager strong armed their group, wanting to out give the other groups. When we turned in our contributions, United Way had their expected budget met. They did not bother anyone else in the area for donations. They simply closed shop, wrote out a few checks, and did not answer the phone for the rest of the year. Volunteering for a couple of those charities, we could have used extra money. We begged them to increase our allotment and they refused, and yet a few hundred thousand employees in the area never got a chance to contribute.
You might note that I did not rake the famous chicken sandwich shop over the coals here. They run advertisements about some of their people that go out of the way to be neighborly. The owners are Christians, and they advertise that you get good service, from the heart, at their shops. Somehow, it is more humble. They praise their employees rather than the corporation’s agenda. Instead of saying that they contributed millions of dollars to charity, which they do, they talk about an employee who changed a woman’s car tire, for example. And as a result, the line raps around their parking lot. No one minds the wait because the quality is good, and the people are friendly.
But what can we do about it? If the virtue signaling bothers you, do not do business with them. They are virtue signaling to entice you to use their services. They are in it for the money. So, refrain from giving them any.
But the biggest thing that we can do is to quietly place our money in the offering plate and do our major praying in private, in our prayer closet, without any fanfare.
God will reward what is done in private, all alone, outside the view of our neighbors.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.