Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable work before men, to be seen by them; otherwise, you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:1
“Let your light shine this way before men, so they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus, in Matthew 5:16
At first, it appears that Jesus is giving conflicting commandments. On the one hand, the Lord is commanding his followers to do their good deeds before men so that they might glorify God. And on the other hand, he is forbidding them to do their good deeds in order to be seen by men.
But the difference in the two commandments is great, and can be seen if we slow down and read Jesus’ words carefully. The first commandment is a prohibition against doing good deeds for the purpose of impressing men. It is repugnant to God for us to do any good deed just for show. The vast majority of God’s merciful acts toward men is done quietly, and is, for the most part, completely overlooked by the humans who benefit from those gracious acts. God is motivated in His works toward us by pure and sincere love for us. He has no ulterior motive. He just loves us. And that is the love that he wants us to have for one another. Our hearts are to be so far from seeking publicity or personal benefit for our actions that Jesus commanded us not even to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, when we do a good deed for anyone.
The second commandment above seems at first to contradict this concept, but all Jesus is saying there is to live a godly life before men so that they may honor the God you serve. He was not at all teaching that we should make a show of our good deeds; he was merely encouraging us to live courageously in this dark, wicked world and bring some of God’s light into it, thus to bring honor to our heavenly Father.
There are many similar Scriptures in the Bible, verses that seem at first to contradict one another, but whose contradictions, upon close examination, are transformed into wisdom from God. In Christ, there are no contradictions at all. Outside of Christ, there is nothing but confusion and contradiction, and God is calling His people out of all such things.
Slow down and think carefully about what you are reading when you read the Bible. Ask Jesus to help you see the wisdom in it. There is more wisdom in that book than this world will ever know until the Day of Christ comes and reveals all things to all people. But on that Day, it will be too late to be benefited by knowing the Lord. Seek the knowledge of God now, while it can do your soul some good. And understand that if the Bible confuses you, it is not because the Bible is confused.