Monday, December 30, 2013

Good Deeds

Jesus Christ:  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds (light, moral actions) shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

These verses are part of King Jesus Christ’s augural address to the world, also called the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:1-Matthew 7:29). The Sermon on the Mount is also Jesus Christ’s longest recorded sermon in the Holy Scriptures. In this Sermon, Jesus Christ explained the heart attitude and deeds that God the Father expects of all people and His blessings that follow obedience to Jesus Christ’s teaching through the help of the God’s Holy Spirit living within one’s heart (Matthew 5:1-16).

Jesus Christ explained that God blesses those who realize their need for Him and live a life surrendered to His will (Matthew 5:3; Luke 1:38). Also, God blesses those who are humble, seeks justice and mercy, works for peace, and do what is right (Matthew 5:5-10). These character traits (e.g., mercy, humility, justice, peace, goodness) are traits of God (God the Father, God the Son – Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit) and summarize God's righteous ways of living that He blesses and rewards with His special favor (grace), both physically and spiritually (Micah 6:6-8; see also Matthew 5:1-16). The Holy Scriptures repeatedly speaks of the faithful obedience to God that brings His blessings (see Psalm 1:1, 3-6; Psalm 106:3; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 119:1-2; Proverbs 8:32-33; Isaiah 56:2).

God (Yahweh) is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering (patient), and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6, NKJV). The Holy Scriptures are filled with deeds of God’s unending mercy, grace, compassion, patience, faithfulness, forgiveness, and fairness (justice) (see Numbers 14:17-19; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). Righteousness is good or moral behavior that conforms to God’s character traits. God wants everyone to follow (imitate) His unchanging character traits as a way of living each day (Ephesians 5:1-2). Good living is not an external thing through obeying rules and regulations. Rather, goodness comes from within – internal attitudes and intents of the heart. There is a blessing that comes to all that follows God’s righteous character from their hearts. 

Apostle Paul:  Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave Himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to him. Ephesians 5:1-2 (TLB)

Both God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the Light of the world (see John 1:4; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5). God is the Light (1 John 1:5) and Jesus Christ is also the Light from God that lights the way of life – as the pillar of fire lighted the way for the Israelites in the wilderness (see Exodus 13:21-22; Nehemiah 9:12). God’s Light or presence was visible in the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire in the Israelites wilderness journey, and also came to earth in the symbolism of the Jewish sanctuary (the Tabernacle and Temple). However, God’s Light came in a fuller way in the Person of Jesus Christ, “God with us” (John 1:1-14). God’s Light fills the entire world as the Holy Spirit comes into the lives of every genuine follower of God.

Apostle Paul:  My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight, for I want you always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean, no one being able to criticize you from now until our Lord returns. May you always be doing those good, kind things (the fruits of righteousness) that show you are a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord. Philippians 1:9-11 (TLB)

God expects everyone, particular His followers, to carry on His Light through good deeds in the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:12-15). Our good deeds in the world brings honor and glory to God (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Remember, God did not save us through our good works because salvation comes only through faith in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). We experience God's mercy, grace, and salvation, when we accept and believe in Jesus Christ’s life and ministry as God’s only begotten Son (John 1:12-13; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4-7). Through this acceptance and belief, God also gives us a new and clean heart (Acts 15:9) and heart peace within (Romans 5:1). But having received His mercy and grace, God wants us then to share His goodness with others. God saved us to DO good works in the world and to reflect His good light and righteous fruit to others (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:4-10). God’s Holy Spirit enables His people from within to live good, upright, and moral lives for God’s honor and glory (John 14 – 16; Romans 8:1-3; Galatians 2:20). We are to live with positive light – living a loving relationship filled with truth, good deeds and service to others in the world while fleeing sin – selfishness, self-sufficiency, pride, greed, hate, and prejudice (see Matthew 5:13-16; Luke 10:25-37; James 3:13-18; James 4:7-8).

Apostle Peter:  Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul. People who do not believe are living all around you and might say that you are doing wrong. Live such good lives that they will see the good things (deeds) you do and will give glory to God on the day when Christ comes again. 1 Peter 2:11-12 (NCV)

Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. New York: Zondervan, 2008.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament. Victor Books, 2001.

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