11th Week OT (W)
Just a few days ago, Jesus said to the disciples, “...your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds...” This morning he says, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them...” So, which is it, Jesus? Shine or hide? Let others see our good deeds, or keep them hidden? Well, like most moral choices, we have to think hard about our motives for doing good deeds. Why am I performing this good deed? If it's to let everyone know how wonderfully generous I am, then I'd best keep the deed hidden. That's what's best for the health of my soul. If, however, I'm doing the Good so that others might give God the glory, then I'd best bring the media and shine as brightly as I can. The simple truth is: I could not have done the Good w/o God, so He gets the credit. It might not be immediately apparent why making sure that God gets the credit for my good deeds is essential to my spiritual health. Consider this: everything you have and everything you are is a gift from God. Freely given, freely received. Your spouse, your kids/grandkids, house, job, car, everything. That you are in the first place is a gift. Your talents, your health, your vocation. All gifts. At the end, nothing you have or are belongs to you. Not your body, not your soul. Nothing. It's all God's. And He gave it all to you so that you can use it all to give Him glory. When you use all He gave you to give Him glory, you become a way and means of diffusing His limitless goodness into the world. The more His limitless goodness is diffused, the more His Gospel is heard and answered. If I make my good deeds about me and my pathetic need for applause, then I make my good deeds about my very limited goodness. Sure, the example I set may spark a copy-cat benefactor or two, but all I've done is help another needy ego get an attention-fix. Spiritually speaking, I've lied. I've done the Good and claimed the credit when the Good I've done is not mine to do. It's a false witness. Jesus condemns hypocrisy for this very reason – stealing credit for the Good done while never allowing the Good to change me for the good. So, do the Good and give God the credit. Not b/c He craves glory but b/c doing so highlights a fundamental truth of reality, a truth that brings others to Him – every existing thing is a gift. All of it. You, me, everything is His first. The Good we do can never be anything but secondary. We can either steal the credit, or give credit where credit is due. Only one these options brings us closer to Christ.