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When Our Good Works Do Not Glorify God

10 June 2013 6 Comments

Recently, the following email came in from a friend. I liked what he had written so much, I thought I would share it with you.


Hi Julian
I was reading Matthew 5:14-16 last night and it reminded me of when I hear Christians say “if we just go around doing random let your light shine 2good deeds we glorify our Father in heaven.”

This is true only when it is paired up with other truths in the Bible.

Let me explain.

I have a wonderful Muslim friend who runs a business in NZ and spends 6 months of the year in Africa and alot of money on educating poor children so they can have better lives.

He loves and glorifies his god by doing way more good deeds than I do.

The people for whom he is doing the goods works know he is a Muslim and that he is doing them for the sake of the name of Allah.

Today I was approached by an Indian man in the city for help jump starting his car.

It took about 20 minutes of my time to get him going and he was so grateful.

Jesus was only glorified when I gave him one of your tracts as we shook hands and parted.

I could have just said “God bless you”, but I could have been glorifying any number of gods, or even myself.

I believe this scripture about our good works glorifying Jesus is only so when the gospel is given together with the good deed.

If I had not given the guy a tract with the gospel message inside I would have:

  • been putting my lamp under a bowl.
  • left the Muslim guessing as to what motivated me i.e. I could have been just a nice atheist for all he knew.
  • been most certainly glorifying myself (something God hates. He says He will not share his glory with another – Isaiah 42:8)
  • Jesus would most definitely  NOT have been glorified.

But there is another great lesson here.

When we interpret scripture, we need to do so in the light of all of what Scripture says about a subject, not just pick out random verses here and there and build a pet theology around them.

Thanks for making tools that make it so easy for anyone to share the gospel with people.

Love Greg (the plumber)

Greg and Bianca

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  • renee tobin says:

    Good work greg,have prayed for this man that he understands the gospel clearly and the holy spirit hovers over him bringing salvation.

  • Carl says:

    So true! Really annoyed with myself for not giving a tract to a guy that I went out of my way to help on the weekend. The wheel feel off his mountain bike tied on the back of his car as he went over a judder bar and didn’t notice. I sped up to the scene, jumped out, threw the wheel in and chased him down the road. Lost him for 5 minutes when he went round a corner ahead of us and pulled into some shops with hidden off street parking. Luckily for him, it was next to the video store I was going to was next to where he was and COINCIDENTALLY (NOT!!) he pulled out of the driveway just as I was getting back into my car to drive away! I waved hm down and he was ever so grateful. All I could think of to say was, “the good Lord has been looking after you today!” And “God bless ya” as I left him. What a wasted opportunity!
    I had my 6 year old son in the car with me, and when we started chasing the guy I reminded him of one of the memory verses we do in song form in Sunday School “In everything do to others as you’d have them do to you. It’s the meaning of the Law, and the prophets said it too” (Matt 7:12) saying, “If my wheel fell off the back of my car, I’d love it if someone chased me down the road to get it back to me.” I thought it was a very good example of what Jesus was teaching that I was giving him. And in a pure “Good works for the sake of good works” perspective, it was.
    But in hindsight, it would have been better for this one of random act of kindness to a guy I will probably never see again in my life to have said to my son, “Let’s help this guy so that we can use it as an icebreaker to either share the gospel with him or give him a gospel tract.” Then I could have still quoted Matt 7:12 and said, “If I was on my way to Hell but didn’t know it, nor how to get to heaven, I would want someone to tell me about it. This is the best thing we can ‘do to others’”.
    The good thing about giving out tracts after “random acts of kindness” is that the recipients are not likely to refuse it after having been helped out, even if they are just being courteous. But God is bigger than people’s courtesy, and I believe if we give a gospel tract to someone after showing genuine concern for their well being and gong out of our way to help that the Holy Spirit is able to take someones courtesy and turn it into a genuine curiosity.
    So lesson is – as always – always have some good tracts on hand. BE Prepared!
    Thanks Greg for putting your light on the hill. Keep looking for/creating those opportunities

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Thanks Renee

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Great story Carl….can I blog this?

  • Carl says:

    If you like. Sometimes it’s good to hear about people’s failures too. While it’s always encouraging and challenging to hear about someone doing the right thing and giving something to someone, it’s nice to know sometimes that your not the only one who goofs it :)

    You’d like to know that when i picked up my Thai takeaways tonight I opened my wallet to pay with my credit card and found the tract I had put there for the very reason of giving over the counter if if was appropriate. At first I hesitated, but then I obeyed that still small voice and offered it to the Asian young man behind the counter. I explained to him that it was a Summary of the Christian message in Comic form and suggested he might like to read it at some stage. He accepted it willingly and thanked me. Who knows?

    That reminds me, need to go and replace that tract…

    Bless Ya

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    “Goofs” are inevitable on the road to learning how to evangelise. Thanks once again for all your input Carl.

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