Friday, April 03, 2009

Light for Everyone

Have you ever noticed how someone calling attention to some good that they've done just doesn't seem appealing to us?  "Hey, look at me, I fed homeless people, helped an old lady cross the street, AND rescued 6 kittens today!"  It just seems to take the breath out of the actual acts themselves (no matter how good they may be).  We're generally repelled by someone bragging about the good things they've done.

Contrasting this spotlight attitude is the humility of many who will fend off any type of praise whatsoever.  "Oh, it's no big deal... it's really no trouble..."  Some people will even go out of their way to keep secret some positive thing they've done.  But is it healthy humility, or something else?

In Matthew 5, Jesus called his followers the "light of the world."  He called their attention to the way they'd light a lamp and put it on a stand (not under a bowl) to give light to everyone around.  Then he said "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

In Matthew 6, however, Jesus warns us to "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' in front of others, to be seen by them."  I think this is largely a concern with motive.  The key here isn't in hiding or spotlighting the good that we do.  It is in the good we do pointing people's attention to God.  It's ironic that the act of serving can so easily become a source of pride.  Obviously in the Mt. 5 passage, Jesus isn't telling us to go around calling attention to ourselves and the good things we do for others.  He's calling us to live a life that is so radiant that the people around us can't help but notice - and so 'other' that the only explanation is God.  When our lives call attention to Him, then we're giving "light to everyone in the house".


  1. You have presented a good contrast in Scripture. But how do I let my light shine if I am not to tell others what I do?

    Another question, if I am not to share what I do for Jesus for fear of bragging then should I even talk to these people at all? Why should I talk about what is pointless in order not to brag?

    So this is why the conversation at church is pointless. Everyone is afraid of bragging! The silence at church is deafening.

    I understand the point of not bragging, but we live disjointed lives and I don't see anything in church if people don't tell me I won't know.

  2. I wonder if the "letting your light shine" is actually the good that we do for someone else. It's not about getting credit for what's been done, it's about making some part of life a little brighter. That doesn't necessarily mean we don't talk about it.

    Sorry my post came across that way - my thoughts weren't quite altogether when I was writing!

    As far as the pointless conversation at church goes, I can't speak to your current situation (since I'm not sure what it is), but know that the church is engaged in deeper and more meaningful conversation than what may be evident in any one place at one time. (Incidentally, I'm afraid the lack of depth in a lot of "church conversation" is due to something other than fear of bragging.)


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