Sunday, July 22, 2018

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

LIFE WITH KINGDOM VALUES
Matthew 5:13-16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mt. 5:16)
 
 "Why are young people leaving the church?" This was a question posed to Tim King, a contributor to CNN. His response was that "The exodus (of young adults) stems from hypocrisy [of Christians]."  But what is it that we are called to do? Matthew succinctly portrays it in chapter 5, vs. 16: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven
Let your light shine!:  Let's split the verse into two sections. Section one commands us to let our light shine before others. How do we define this 'light'? We can look light at the beginning of God's Word, when God first said that light was good. (Genesis 1:4) In prayer, Samuel identifies this light source as the Lord, Himself. (2 Samuel 22:29) David's much-quoted poem solidifies the prior definitions, and has become a staple verse for Christians: "Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalms 119:130). As exemplified in the Old Testament, the "light" that Jesus is referring to is twofold; it represents God, and it represents our willingness to walk paths that God guides us through. But what did Jesus mean, then, when He bade us let our light shine before others? Paul defines it best when he urges his readers to "shine like the stars of the universe." (Philippians 2:15) We are called to be the navigational stars and the guiding lamp at night that leads others in the direction of home and safety, Jesus.
Good Deeds!: Part two addresses what we, as Christians, should do to supplement our light- good deeds. Many Christians quote Ephesians 2:8 to defend a lack of good behavior, since the Word states that, "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." So it is grace that saves us, right? Not entirely. James provides clarification, by urging his readers that, "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:14-17). We NEED to demonstrate good deeds towards others for our faith to be alive. Our good deeds can be demonstrated in the open, being a clear beacon of righteousness for others. It can also be done in private, for even good deeds done in secret cannot be hidden. (1 Tim 5:24-25.)

Glory to our Father!: If our light and our deeds are leading others to Christ, then we are realizing God's instruction to us. We have a mission. Our light needs to shine always. Our good deeds must be in the wake of whatever path God puts us in. If we let our light illuminate the paths of others, and our good deeds to positively affect the world around us, we will fulfill the end of the verse, "glorify your Father in heaven."
Prayer:
Father, guide us as we walk through the valleys of life. Be the light at our feet, and allow our light to shine from our heart, through our actions, and illuminate the path for others. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The kingdom of God begins in a person when God reigns in his heart.
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church