Lights that Shine

IMG_3587

A few weeks ago, I wrote the following in my personal journal:

“I have a hard time knowing how to handle these two passages:

‘Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:1-4; NLT)

‘You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts in under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’ (Matthew 5:14-16; NLT)

So, which is it? Good deeds for everyone to see? Or in secret so only God sees? Both verses are Jesus talking.”

In my journal, I wrote about specific circumstances and situations. I wanted to know if there was a difference between financial good deeds and other types of good deeds. I evaluated my heart. What were my reasons for doing good deeds? Was doing good deeds a big enough part of my life?

I don’t write every day, but here is what I like about it. On this particular day, I didn’t merely read and go about my life. I struggled through what I was reading. And then, because I had written it down, the things I had read in the morning continued to come to mind throughout the day.

I continued to think and ponder these things in my heart. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I had an “A-HA!” moment.

What seemed to me, at first, to be a contradiction, was something completely different.

The big idea here, isn’t whether or not we tell people about our good deeds. The big idea is the motive and lifestyle behind them.

In essence, are good deeds being done “to be admired by others” or in order “that everyone will praise your heavenly Father?”

In the first scenario, a good deed is performed as an exception, not a rule. In today’s terms, it would likely accompany a picture on Instagram with a profound caption. The good deed supposedly done for someone else, may actually have been done to get a little pat on the back and some accolades from peers.

The second scenario, however, has good deeds of an entirely different purpose. These deeds are done because it is in our nature to do them. Let’s read that verse again:

“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deed shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

When we turn on a lamp, it is designed to spread light. It cannot help but do so. It is in the nature of that light. When we allow our lives to be transformed by Jesus, it becomes our nature to bring him glory. Good deeds become a compulsion that we must complete because of the power of His word at work in our lives.

You guys, I’m getting chills at this point.

The reason these deeds shine out? It isn’t because we’ve told anyone or done anything to make it obvious. Our deeds shine out because they become part of our identity in Christ. People see them not because we’ve pointed out our own awesomeness; they seem them because they become such a big part of our lives, we don’t even realize we are doing them.

Lord, may my life be such a representation of Your love.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way that I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love that you have for each other.” (John 13:35; MSG)

Advertisements

How to Ruin a Pity Party

Image was created by my sweet friend, Brett Redgate. She is so talented!

*This post was written in real time, but I’m just now publishing it several months later. I think I personally need this reminder!!*

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Truth be told, I went to bed on the wrong side and then woke up ready to gripe about all the “injustices” in my life. So, out of habit, and without any sort of desire to change my heart, I sat down to do my quiet time.

Pity party mistake #1: Have a moment of quiet to spend with God.

Pity party mistake #2: Open your YouVersion app and pull up the next day in your New Day, New You reading plan by Joyce Meyer.

This is such a bad idea when you want to start your day spewing venom.

The title of the day’s devotional content? Complain and Remain, Praise and Be Raised. I mean, really.

Then, here’s the kicker. This is where it gets really good. The main verse she references in her devotional is Ephesians 4:29. You know, the one that’s hanging up on a huge wooden sign in the middle of my living room. The one that essentially says not to spew venom but only speak words of life. Bah, humbug.

Begrudgingly, I agreed with Ms. Meyer and decided to recognize my complaining attitude as sin and I chose to praise God instead.

What freedom we find in Christ! The enemy has been defeated. We can choose to walk in freedom or let the enemy weasel his way into our lives. There is so much hope to be found when we recognize the work of the devil and call him out on it. There is so much joy to be found when we surrender our circumstances to the Lord and praise Him in every situation.

It was really hard to do this at the beginning of the day, but by the end of it I could see the hand of God working in my life. By choosing joy, I was able to encourage others instead of put a damper on their day. By choosing to focus my attention on the goodness of God, I managed to forget why I was so angry in the first place.

I’m expecting a long night tonight as the baby is working on some new teeth. But tonight, instead of complaining, I choose to praise the Name of the One who entrusted me with this precious child.

Tonight, I choose joy.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT)