Breakfast with Solomon - Matthew 5:16
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven"
Jesus is telling believers to show off but to show off in such a way that non-believers will see them and wonder at the God they serve.
Is there anything in your life that a non-Christian person would look at and marvel at God because you are doing that?
Jesus also implies that it is possible to "shine" before men in such a way as to cause people to not glorify God. Don't do that.
The word light is the Greek word phos, which is the standard word for light in that period. The idea is that there will be light coming off of the believers and that light should be shown in a particular way that gives honor and majesty to the Father.
The whole of the New Testament would suggest that the light source for our light is Christ and that we are reflecting His original light source. We are the moon to His Son. We are the jewel that reflects the light in various shades and hues and tones that cause people to be amazed. So the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives us are the ways that we are to reflect who He is to an increasingly skeptical world.
When the Holy Spirit prompts us to do a good deed -- to speak with kindness to others or to do some other righteous thing -- then this is an opportunity to reflect the wonder and light of God into the lives of others.
The word shine is the Greek word lampo, which means to radiate out, to shine. God wants our good works to radiate out and display who He is and His qualities to a cynical and skeptical world. Understand that the world has suffered under the boot of sinful, controlling people who have wondered why God doesn't come and rescue them with a display of His power. He is trying to cause them to realize who He is and display His power through Christians. He is a good and wonderful and loving God who has chosen to allow mankind great freedom of choice, and their freedom of choice often obscures who He is. If He were to do what they wanted and completely unveil Himself to everyone, then He would eliminate faith and become the puppet master of the universe and completely control our lives. There would be no opportunity to really love God or respond to His love freely. Because He remains hidden, looking for people who will choose to trust Him and who will choose to love Him, He displays who He is through these people even though some people at times believe that He is evil and cruel and terrible. We are His messengers to an outside world that wonders about who He is and what He is like.
God wants you to do your good works publicly, so do not try and hide them so much that God is not seen in them. In some way allow people to watch or to know about your actions so that God would receive glory. You are not to trumpet your stuff so that it puffs you up. He wants Christians to be people who actually do good things so that other people will see and marvel at God. This puts a balance on the other idea that Jesus Himself brings up later in this sermon -- that our giving and our good deeds should be done anonymously. Some have taken that to mean that people can never know if you give to a charity; yet if this were the only way to give, then it would violate this principle: "Let your good works shine."
In fact in our day and age, giving money is a really good work because it is one of the highest valued things in the world. People just can't wrap their minds around the idea that they someday would give away money!
in such a way
Jesus' phrase in such a way is fascinating because it truly suggests that there are ways to live in front of other people that do not give glory to God. There are even ways of doing good works so that they do not radiate glory to God. Christians are to do their good works "in such a way" that other people are impressed with God, not them.
This would suggest that there is a level of hiddenness to them; that there is a humility to them; that the good works help people who cannot help you directly in return.
The good works that the Christian does are those that God supplies as in Ephesians 2:10. He has prepared them for us before the world began. Will you do them in the way that He wants so that it will display the wonder and love of God so that others will want to connect with this God?