the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing

there is confusion, hypocrisy, or a lack of communication
—How can the owner say that the restaurant will open on Monday but the chef says he won’t be ready? The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing!

In much of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus attacked the hypocrisy of people who followed God’s laws to make themselves look good to others rather than to please God. For example, he said,

Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth], so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

According to Jesus, giving to help the poor should not be done to draw attention to oneself. Certainly, if a person should keep a secret from his own hand, then he shouldn’t tell other people what he is doing.

While this phrase is often used in modern English to describe a group or individual whose plans or actions are inconsistent, another form can also be used as a warning to keep something secret: Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.

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