Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I am a huge fan of soccer (known as football in most places in the world), so I enjoyed following the 2018 World Cup held in Russia. While the soccer played on the pitch, and the many upsets, have been exciting, for me, one of the big highlights was something happening off the field. One of the big stories, was reports of Japanese fans who cleaned the stands of garbage (not just their own, but entire sections) at the end of a game. Even more impressive, however, Japanese fans once again cleaned up after a devastating last-minute loss to Belgium, and even the players cleaned their dressing room leaving it spotless and leaving a large thank-you note in the middle of the room, written in Russian. This is a testament to the Japanese culture of respect and honor. These small acts have shone a very bright light on the Japanese.
Todays scripture comes from Matthew 5. In what is often called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the crowds and the disciples who followed him and used the analogies of Salt and Light.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Every day, we have opportunities as Christians to do small or large things that bless others and shine a light in an often, dark world. In a time when the world’s values and morals are dramatically clashing with Biblical teaching, and this causing significant animosity towards Christians, demonstrations of love and respect always break through barriers.
While we are saved by grace and not good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), it is clear that God can use our good works to reach the lost. In Ephesians 2:10 we are told that we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. We need to be in a close relationship with God and we need to pray that he reveals what “good deeds” he prepared for us to do. However, this begins with us dying to ourselves.
If we are honest with ourselves, we are all selfish creatures at heart, with our first inclination to meet our own needs. But Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16: 24b). Denying yourself is not easy business, but it is a godly characteristic that we should each desire. When we demonstrate selflessness in this world, which is often consumed by self interest (whatever makes me happy, whatever fulfills me), we become salt in a tasteless world, we become light in a dark world.
I encourage you to set aside quiet time with God to pray to him, with an open heart and a desire to be his servant. Ask him what good works he prepared for you today and ask what you can do to give glory to your Father in heaven.