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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Soli Deo Gloria

All too often, when I do a good work I seek my praise from man. Did you notice that I took out the trash? Did you see what a good job I did sweeping?

This is completely contrary to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

That last part is crucial. The glory belongs to God. I should not parade my good works so that people will think highly of me. That is pride—stealing His glory and honor, or as C.J. Mahaney writes, “contending for supremacy with God.” I need to give Him what is rightfully His.

My motivation for doing good works should not be earthly praise. It is hypocritical to do good works to be seen by others. Jesus warns, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

When I do my good works in front of others, that is all the praise I get. When I do them secretly, my “Father who sees in secret will reward [me]” (6:4). His rewards are way better (see Matthew 7:11). Here on earth, “moth and rust destroy and . . . thieves break in and steal” (6:19). The wise course is to invest in my future. I only have a few years on earth, but eternity lasts forever. I need to follow Jesus’ command to “lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (6:20-21).

Glorifying God with one’s works is not a theoretical practice. Jesus’ good works are a means of giving glory to God. When Jesus heals a paralytic in Matthew 9, the crowd was “afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (v. 8). In chapter 15, when Jesus heals many people of various diseases, “the crowd wondered . . . And they glorified the God of Israel” (v. 31).

The next time that it is my turn to take out the trash or sweep the floor, I will endeavor not to do it as a “people-pleaser” (Ephesians 6:6), but rather “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This afternoon as I unloaded the dishwasher, I thought about letters of recommendation. I am at a stage in my life when I am beginning to ask people to write them for me.

Honestly, I really like reading them. It’s nice to read nice things about oneself.

I had finished with the dishwasher and was on to a peanut butter and banana sandwich when the thought hit me: What would God write in a letter of recommendation for me? What would He say about me?

This might be how He would introduce me. Even as an introduction, it is by no means exhaustive (to do that I would basically have to quote the entire Bible).

He created me in His own image (Genesis 1:27). He knit me together in my mother’s womb and every day of my life was recorded in His book before I even began to live them (Psalm 139:13, 16). He chose me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

He made me His own (Philippians 3:12). He adopted me as His child and heir (Galatians 4:5-7). He qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:12). He transferred me into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). He gave me citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20). He desires that I be with Him and see His glory (John 17:24).

You might have noticed that every sentence begins with the word “He.” That is because my righteousness is not my own, but, as Paul declares, “that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).