They say “actions speak louder than words.” This saying is meant to uncover hypocrisy to the shame of the one who is being discussed. One of the greatest battle we will always face as believers and followers of Christ is the battle for consistency. Can our actions really ever match our words? In other words can our actions ever be perfect? With that in mind go with me to verse 16 of our text, which is the last verse this month.
Let Your Light Shine
Remember we were discussing the fact that people do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. Our text today picks it up from there with the words, “in the same way.” This means just like people go to the pains of putting a light in a prominent place, we also ought to make every effort to make our light shine. You see, we should not believe that it is effortless. Just live your life and people will see, no! It makes every effort to make your light shine at all times. Make note that we are judged in God’s book by our inaction as much as our actions. Many of us are more guilty of inaction than of action. This is also called the sin of omission. We fail to do that which we know is our obligation. Remember today that making your light shine is your obligation. Notice the little word, “let”- which means enable/ or make possible. It is our responsibility to make our light shine before the world. It is not a passive action but rather an active one. Light your light and make sure it is shining for all to see!
By Your Good Works
You may be asking yourself how do I make the light shine? The answer is in the next sentence. We ought to let our light shine so that men will see our good deeds. Remember what I said earlier about our faith? That though we believe in the privacy of our hearts we practice our faith in the public arena of interaction with others. This makes it very difficult to conceal our shortcomings and mistakes! Our light is interpreted here as the good deeds that we do before people. In other words, whereas Christianity is not a religion of works – meaning that people are not saved because of their deeds, it is a must that our actions accompany our confession. Here I will let the scripture explain further from the book of James 2:14-26
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
For the Glory of God
It was the clarion call of the reformation that all we do should be for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Whatever we do means all our actions should be aimed at the glory of God. The problem is that it is very difficult not to take the glory when people praise you and tell you how great your actions are! The temptation is to add a word that will make them think even more of you. Worse still is the expectation of praise for our good actions. I want us to see that the scripture clearly tells us here that we should do all our good works so that people who see them may glorify God in heaven. Let me put it another way. Do all those good actions so that your God may look good! Out of our actions should come the natural response of glory to God. People should know the only reason we do what we do is because of God who enables us. This means that our motive should be to glorify God and not ourselves. Our actions too should point to God and not ourselves and finally, we should point people to God, not to ourselves. God’s glory should be our primary concern. In every action let us not ask, “how did I look?” But rather, “how did I make God look?” I promise you if we do it that way we will start a great revolution. The glory of God is the ultimate goal of our lives.