Peacock on sand

The motivation for good deeds and why it matters

Doing the right thing makes people stand out in a crowd. Anymore, it’s unusual to find someone who does the right thing. And it’s even more unusual to find someone who will serve others at the cost of their own comfort. It’s just not popular.
But when you run across someone who genuinely cares about other people and who is intent on doing good for others no matter what the personal cost, don’t they seem to shine a little brighter than other people around them? Kind of like the world is gray and they’re vivid?
Peacock on sand

Peacock on sand - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

I think that’s how living a real Christian life should be. Today’s verse is Matthew 5:16.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

People get caught up in good deeds and good works a lot of the time. I that’s because we judge each other by our works. Our works are usually an indication of the state of our hearts, which is something we can’t see.

Let’s be honest. If you are really interested in serving God and living a life like Christ did, you will serve others. You will put others before yourself. Your life will demonstrate that you believe in Jesus. Your checkbook and your calendar will demonstrate that you believe in Jesus. Or it will demonstrate that you’re just faking it.

But in the end, good deeds don’t save you. You can do all the good deeds in the world and they won’t make you perfect. They won’t excuse you from your imperfections. Only Christ can do that, and He doesn’t excuse you from imperfection, He became perfection for us and took our punishment so we didn’t have to.

So if you’re a Christian and you do a good deed, what do you say if someone asks you why you did it?

Do you say that it was the right thing to do? Sure. It probably was. Do you say it’s because you wanted to be a good person? Well, I’m sure that’s true, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a good person. By as a Christian, why do we do good things for other people?

Isn’t it because God has told us to? Isn’t it because the Bible says to value others more than ourselves? Isn’t it because that’s how Christ lived?

Good deeds make you stand out. Caring about others makes you stand out. So why, when people ask us the reason for our regard, do we backpedal and say it was only right to do something nice for them?

I can say, from personal experience, that’s it’s easier to just shrug it off and say it was the right thing to do. It’s easier than looking like a freak and saying, “God told me to hold that door open for you!” or “I bought your lunch because Jesus would have done the same!”

But what happens when you take the motivation for a good deed and turn it into something that was just the right thing to do? Suddenly, that good deed is no longer about God or about living a Christian life. It becomes about you. Doing a good deed becomes something that was done to make ourselves feel better or look good. And that’s not why we are to do good works and good deeds for other people.

This verse today, Matthew 5:16, comes from a larger passage where Jesus is talking about how believers are like a city on a hill. You can’t hide a city on a hill. The lights shine into the darkness and can’t be covered up. That’s the way a Christian is supposed to be. We’re supposed to live in a way that we are undeniably obvious, living like Christ and giving God glory for everything.

It’s difficult to give God credit among people who don’t know Him. But as believers, we are to let our good deeds point toward God. Don’t let the opportunity to introduce someone to God pass you by because you’re afraid they’ll look at you funny.

If you do a good deed, be ready to explain why.