Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 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. 1 Peter 2:11-12
Jesus said that we are not to do our ‘acts of righteousness’ before men that we may be seen by them, but to go into our closet to pray… or when we give our offerings to not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. What do we do with Peter’s encouragement to let the pagans around us see our good deeds?
James wrote that faith without these good deeds is dead, and that people will know about our faith through what we do. So clearly these good works will be seen by people.
This idea is not opposed to the teaching of Jesus at all. Christ taught the crowds, “Let your light shine before all men that they may see your good deeds and glorify God who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). Peter is actually quoting Jesus! Our lives are to be on display for the glory of God. They are not on display to impress people, which is what Jesus was saying before.
The motivation of the heart is the issue. Our lives are filled with good deeds for other people’s benefit and for the glory of Christ. He gets the credit for our goodness, because we have none otherwise. When we do good deeds for other people to see and be impressed with us, it is our glory we are seeking. People ultimately are not helped by this. What they need is to see the goodness of God and bring Him glory.
It is encouraging when people are helped by my efforts in Christ’s Kingdom – truly. But it is a thin line to cross over to giving me credit. I risk sounding trite when people express how they’ve been helped because I am quick to say ‘God is good’ and/or ‘Glory to Christ,’ but I must do this.
In my efforts to stay on the right side of that thin line I am helped by doing as many nearly invisible good deeds as possible. I’m not hiding those from people, but they’re just not done on the public stage.
I am also helped by being quick to talk about my weaknesses. This is painful, but necessary. Jesus is the Hero of my story.
He is good when there’s nothing good in me. He is truth even in my wandering. He is love on display for all to see.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the grace You consistently give to me. Thank You for the power of Your Spirit that graces me with power to abstain from the sinful desires of this world that war against my soul. Thank You that I can live a life that brings glory to You. I pray that today it would. I live for You.