Why are we doing good deeds? Is it so people may be helped? Is it so we may have meaningful lives? Is it so we can grow? No doubt, each of these happens when we are zealous for good deeds. These things, however, are byproducts of our good deeds; they are not the goal. The goal, as seen in John 15:8, is to bear fruit that glorifies God. This goes along with Matthew 5:16, which says we should let our lights shine so people may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
You see, the issue is that our Father is in heaven. Our neighbors cannot see Him. Our co-workers cannot witness His work ethic. Our friends cannot watch His care and concern. Strangers with whom we come in contact cannot look at God’s love. They can only see how God acts through us. They can only see how following Him impacts us.
I certainly recognize the general principle often expressed saying, “Folks don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.” The real point however is we are not trying to glorify ourselves. We aren’t trying to let others know what wonderfully caring people we are. We want them to know what a wonderfully caring God we serve. We do that by modeling for them the care of God.
Don’t misunderstand; this is not saying the local congregation’s work should suddenly become social welfare to let folks know how much God cares. Rather, each of us as individuals must live in ways that shows God’s concern, care and love. That doesn’t always equal material welfare or financial handouts. Most often, it equals words of concern and love. It sometimes means weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice. It means showing patience as we work with someone in the gospel. It means demonstrating joy when others have good times in serving the Lord, but also mourning when others disregard serving the Lord.
I heard a story about a guy who runs a rock climbing gym. On Saturdays, he gives a half-off discount for the individual price, but rates for groups over 7 are regular price. One Saturday, 5 guys came in and asked if they could get the half-off price for a group of 15. He explained the rules. The guys then said they thought the others weren’t going to show up anyway, so he charged them half price. Then another group came in later. As the evening went on, he began to pick up that these multiple small groups who acted like they were separate, were actually there as a group. When he asked one of them about it, he was convinced they were separate. The gym owner dropped it. The next morning, however, the guy who had told him they were separate came back, confessed that he lied, apologized and then single-handedly covered the amount they had ripped the gym owner off plus more. The group was a Sunday School class.
I’m not suggesting we lie so we can repent and make up for it. But the penitence and amends said a great deal about this man’s God. May we always bear fruit that shows what a wonderful God we serve.