Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
When you come into a dark room you flip a switch and the light comes on. If you think about it at all you don’t think about the electricity and how it was generated. No, you think about the light. But when the light won’t come on you know where to go to replace a fuse (that’s flip the breaker for you who don’t know what a fuse is) or call the electric company. The light didn’t work because it didn’t get any power.
Somewhere people had to work to generate the power to cause your light to come on.
In the same way we have to work to provide the power for our light to shine and produce good results. But what is the work that we must do in order to make our light shine and give good results.
For a long time I have made it my practice to look at 1 Corinthians 13 regularly. The first 3 verses speak of what are commonly thought of as good things to do or be able to do, but in every case they are classified as worthless in less they proceed from love. Then the writer goes on to explain what love is. If you think about these verses for a while they will ruin almost all romantic stories.
The point is; the things we think of as good works are only the light. The good works is the work of learning and living the love. Read the verses 4-9 and see clearly what the love that God intends for us to practice truly is. This is a good work. This is difficult and we cannot accomplish it without the help of the Spirit of God living in us, helping us.
From the Sermon on the Mount on, the New Testament is full of Good Work that we are called to do. All of this work is invisible to those around us.
Let me illustrate what I am saying. Let’s assume you are in a store waiting in line to pay for your purchase and you turn around to look at something and when you turn back someone has stepped in front of you. What happens inside your mind? Do you become angry because someone has violated your right to be next in line? Jesus says that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement (not exactly sure what that last part means but it doesn’t sound pleasant) (Matthew 5:22). The apostle Paul says that love does not demand its rights (1 Corinthians 13:5). These and other scriptures demand that we think completely in a new way, a way completely different from our natural inclination.
The light that can come forth is no indication of impatience, or possibly mentioning to the other person what they did with no critical or impatient emotion, and then accepting the result with peace in your heart.
Read the Sermon on the Mount and see how many of the things Jesus says are done internally. The instructions that Jesus gives in the sermon are the good works that produce the light that people see coming from us in the daily life.
One time I saw a police officer receive repeated verbal abuses and he remained calm and patient. Later I asked him how he did that (I want to be that way). He said he had learned to act like a duck. You may have seen ducks in a swift moving stream just sitting still. What you see seems to be a stationary duck but what you don’t see is little duck feet paddling furiously where they can’t be seen but the results are obvious.
No one will see what is going on under the surface, but all will be able to see the light that it produces.
Let us grow in faithfulness.