“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
When new friends learn of my lifelong limited eyesight, they often ask what will help me see my world the best. My answer is simple yet surprising — light.
I see best when light comes in from the side. I’m sensitive to glare, and if the light is too bright, I avert my face from the light source. To further complicate life, I have a rare disorder called nystagmus, which makes my eyes jitter. Some lights flicker more than others, and light flicker combined with my eye jitters can make me feel disoriented.
Good light makes all the difference in how well I function.
In our key verse, Jesus tells us we’re the light of the world. Our good light makes all the difference for the world and the Kingdom of God.
We’re coming into a season of the year with new beginnings for shining our light: the startup of school, sports, church activities, and a new slate of community events. That means we’ll be rubbing shoulders with new acquaintances, and we’ll have opportunities to live our faith out loud to those with whom we connect.
Jesus calls us as Christ followers not to be timid about sharing His good news, for we hold the answers to what happens after death and how to have a restored relationship with God.
Jesus tells His followers that God’s good news is as alluring and essential as salt and light. (Matthew 5:13-16) But how can we encourage others to accept this eternity-changing message? Is talking and preaching the only effective way to influence people? Jesus answers that question when He says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
In the previous verses, Jesus gives the first step: Don’t keep this good news to yourself. Then, in verse 16, He outlines how we are to share this new life. First, He says, let the good deeds speak the message. Second, He clarifies we should do good deeds in a way that leads people to glorify God instead of praising us.
It’s not enough to tell someone about Jesus or to do a kind deed, expecting the person will make the connection between what I do and my faith in Christ. How I tell and how I live will determine the effectiveness of my message.
With the memory of what kind of light helps me see best, there are three words I keep in mind to help guide my good deeds on a daily basis. My good deeds need to be directed, balanced and consistent.
Directed: The good I do in Jesus’ name should direct people’s attention to the deed, not to myself. If what I do makes people look at me, they will miss the intention of my good deeds: to show them the love of Jesus. I can check my motives by asking, “How will this action point to Jesus and His way of living?”
Balanced: Jesus says we need to do good quietly, as if one part of our body doesn’t know what the other part is doing. (Matthew 6:2-4) It’s a balancing act. Jesus doesn’t want us to hide our righteous acts, but He cautions against spotlighting what we do. Like those Jesus praised in His parable of the sheep and goats, (Matthew 25:31-40) we’ll reach the proper balance when what we do becomes so much a part of our lifestyle that we’re hardly aware we are doing it.
Consistent: Our Christ-infused behavior needs to be constant and consistent, something people can depend on. If I extend kindness one moment, then react in a hurtful way the next, I’ll leave my recipient confused about the message I’m trying to convey.
As we speak God’s good news and engage in consistent good deeds of compassion and righteousness, I pray that God will light a fire in the hearts of those watching us and that God will be honored and magnified by all we do and say.
Father, in this season of new connections and interactions, I want to represent You well. Guide me, please, in what I say and how I live so I can project Your love in the best way to those who observe the life I’m trying to live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Karen Wingate’s award-winning book, With Fresh Eyes, invites readers to reawaken the wonder of what they observe in creation — great and small — and how God is working in everyday moments. In each of her 60 meditations, Karen’s humor and whimsy draw a connection between physical sight and spiritual understanding that will leave readers with a renewed joy and delight in what is good and beautiful and will reassure them that God still works in the lives of His people. Get your copy today here!
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Peter 2:12, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (NIV)
Who would you like to influence with Jesus’ life-saving message? What kindness could you do for that person this week that would reflect the love and compassion of Christ? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
© 2022 by Karen Wingate. All rights reserved.
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