War and turmoil, conflict, anger and moral decay confront us on every side. The words of Francis Shaffer echo in my heart, “How then shall we live?” As we groan at the darkness, how can we make a difference for eternity? Where shall we turn today? What "works?"
It helps me to recall that Jesus walked our planet in the flesh at the height of Roman rule. The Greco-Roman world was rife with idolatry, immorality, and all manner of depravity. His own people, Israel, were hard-hearted and resistant to His message.
How then did He live and how did He instruct His followers to “make a difference?” My mind returns to His words in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
We bring light into darkness with our actions rather than our words. A partial definition from Strong’s of the Greek word “good” reads: 1) beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable.
As darkness increasingly invades our culture might choosing this admonition to shape our actions provide the greatest impact to potentially draw others to glorify our Father in heaven?
One of my favorite descriptions of “good works” from scripture is found regarding widows in I Timothy 5:10, “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” Bringing up children heads the list of godly “good works.” Any mother can affirm that childrearing is work! They don't call it work for nothing! God used Peter to raise Dorcas from the dead and she was described as abounding in deeds of kindness and charity later described as making robes and clothes for the poor. Hours of stitching, cutting and sewing required work.
Our church ministers to the homeless each month and a group of our senior women gather plastic grocery bags, cut and crochet them into waterproof sleeping mats that are light and comfortable for distribution to those sleeping on the ground. Their example motivated women from other area churches to join them in this "good work," and our college ministry picks up the baton and passes these good works to those in need in downtown Houston. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0GzTNJqzuI
Further descriptions of “good works” involve hospitality, selfless service to others, persistence and reliability in seeking the good of others. Our current mantra of “paying it forward” with little kindnesses to others truly catches the attention of our dark world.
Stepping outside my bent toward self-centeredness is work! Taking up my cross “daily” is a choice. The culture proclaims “you deserve a break today” while the Spirit whispers, “let your light shine.” Like Israel it is easier for me to complain about the darkness rather than light a candle by showing a kindness to one near me. They don't call it "work" for nothing.
Today may I hum and live that little song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” even if it takes some effort!