The Seven Filters – Filter #6, Pt 5 Is my motive to glorify God?

Good works glorify God because it is Jesus’ light shining through them.

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15–16, ESV)

Previously, we understood that doing things to be seen by others was a problem. Yet, Jesus actually tells us to do good works to be seen by others.

This might seem like a contradiction, but it is not. This points directly to the issue of motives, the dividing point of which is this. “Who is the object of receiving the glory?” Works that believers do with the motive of receiving earthly honor and glory for themselves, will miss the mark. This is the absolute wrong motive for good works. In fact, a work done with the express intent of self-glorification is not to be considered a good work. Only those works that are done for the glory of God are good. What makes good works glorifying to God? There are several scriptural reasons for this.

When using a kerosene lamp, one of the things that would happen is that the globe would get smokey. The light inside would be good, but the soot on the inside of the globe would prevent the light from shining out. Jesus told people to let the light shine out from them. However, what was this light and what might prevent it from shining out?

Jesus stated something that we must all understand. He stated, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, ESV) His statement that He was the true light of the world, a light shining in the darkness. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4–5, ESV) The only light that will penetrate the darkness of a sin fallen world is the light that radiates from the Son, Jesus Christ.

Yet, Jesus stated something else pertinent to us. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5, ESV) Jesus was only in the world for a very short time. After His resurrection, it was the Father’s plan for Jesus to return to heaven. Some forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. He left this world. Yet, the light that would penetrate the darkness would not leave for good. This divine light would now come into the hearts of those who would truly believe. On the day of the Feast of Pentecost, something happened in Jerusalem that changed the dynamic of the world. The light of Jesus came to dwell in every true believer by the ministry of the Spirit of God. Thus, Paul wrote that the Spirit of Jesus indwelt every believer (Rom 8:9-11).

This is the light that Jesus wants every believer to shine in the world. It is not the believer’s light, but the light of Jesus in the believer. Paul wrote about this truth to the Galatians.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

He further wrote to the Corinthians regarding this same truth.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10, ESV)

You see, it was not Paul who was responsible for accomplishing all the great things that we attribute to him. It was in fact, the manifestation of God’s grace, Christ in him, that accomplished so much. God is glorified in good works, because He is doing them through the believer by the power of His Spirit. His light is shining through the believer.

This brings us to our responsibility in this. We are to let our light shine before men through good works. Yet sometimes we tend to hide it under a basket. The church in which I pastored in Savannah had an additional Sunday ministry in a home for children ages 7 to 17. One time I had a mission team scheduled to minister there for a week during the Summer. In one of the assemblies, they had the children sing, “This Little Light of Mine.” One of the things they would have the kids do is hold up their index finger to simulate a lit candle. I was standing in the back of the assembly and noticed one of the teens. He wanted to participate by holding up his index finger but did not want the other teens to see what he was doing. So, he held up his index finger of his right hand and hid it under his left arm. Frankly, I got a little chuckle out of this when they got to the lyrics, “Hide it under a bushel (no!)” Yet, this young man demonstrated a problem we often see in Christendom today. Many will sing the song, but not act it out.

What do believers need to do? In the earlier metaphor of the kerosene lamp, they need to clean out the globe. What makes the globe of our lives dirty? There are many things. Pride is a big issue. We do not want to look weird to others. This is a problem of the flesh, but not the only one. Sometimes our own wants, desires, and priorities can cause our lamp’s globe to be covered with soot. Unrepentant sin is a huge issue. Believers, as always, needs to examine themselves, confess sin, and repent to clear up their globes so the light will brightly shine through good works.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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