Matthew 5:16

SHINING FOR GOD

Matt. 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

There are two most important things here.

(i) Men are to see our good deeds. In Greek there are two words for good. There is the word agathos (GSN0018) which simply defines a thing as good in quality; there is kalos (GSN2570) which means that a thing is not only good, but that it is also winsome and beautiful and attractive. The word which is used here is kalos (GSN2570).

The good deeds of the Christian must be not only good; they must be also attractive. There must be a certain winsomeness in Christian goodness. The tragedy of so much so-called goodness is that in it there is an element of hardness and coldness and austerity. There is a goodness which attracts and a goodness which repels. There is a charm in true Christian goodness which makes it a lovely thing.

(ii) It is further to be noted that our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God. This saying of Jesus is a total prohibition of what someone has called “theatrical goodness.”

At a conference at which D. L. Moody was present there were also present some young people who took their Christian faith very seriously. One night they held an all night prayer meeting. As they were leaving it in the morning they met Moody, and he asked them what they had been doing. They told him; and then they went on: “Mr. Moody, see how our faces shine.” Moody answered very gently: “Moses wist not that his face shone.” That goodness which is conscious, which draws attention to itself, is not the Christian goodness.

One of the old historians wrote of Henry the Fifth after the Battle of Agincourt: “Neither would he suffer any ditties to be made and sung by the minstrels of his glorious victory, for that he would wholly have the praise and thanks altogether given to God.” The Christian never thinks of what he has done, but of what God has enabled him to do. He never seeks to draw the eyes of men to himself, but always to direct them to God. So long as men are thinking of the praise, the thanks, the prestige which they will get for what they have done, they have not really even begun on the Christian way.

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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