Links Daily Devotional

A Public Life

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14, NIV)

Sometimes the last place you want the golf course to end is right in front of the clubhouse.

We have all played the closing hole beautifully—“keeps you coming back.” And we have all botched it with the look of a player whose only golf experiences come as the afterthought on the charity scramble team. It’s miserable and embarrassing, and your most fervent prayer in that moment is that someone you admire isn’t watching from their lunch table in the dining room.

Yesterday, we spent some time considering the private nature of a righteous life. We even turned to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus warned his followers not to be like the religious grandstanders who do this act or the other for notice and reward. But today we must increase the fullness of our examination of Jesus’ teaching in that Sermon, for he also said there: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

So how is it that followers of Christ must be both secret and shining in the outworking of their faith?

Let’s begin here: There is a qualitative difference between “good deeds” and “acts of righteousness.” That is, Jesus separated the pure from the proud. Indeed, the idea that we should be cities on hills and lights shining in dark rooms came soon after the Beatitudes, where Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Good deeds come from such pure hearts, and they accomplish this: praise for the Father. When we do what is right with the right motive, others will notice—and they will worship God.

What Jesus could not condone were the “acts of righteousness” performed by those whose hearts were full not of worship but of religion. They were the proud, looking for human accolades. Their righteousness was not compassionate; it was competitive. And Jesus flatly confirmed that there was no heavenly reward for such behavior.

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote a quiet line about a quiet life. It reads: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Here is the blending of the “two lives” we live as pure and righteous disciples. In humility of living and with honor to God, others see what is true in us, respect the way we live, and seek the One who dwells in us.

Jeff Hopper
September 23, 2015
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