In Matthew 5:16 Jesus is on the mountain preaching and He says,
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”
Then in chapter 6 of Matthew, He says in the first verse,
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven.”
My question was, what is the difference in the two? In one verse he seems to be telling us to let men see our good works and, in the other, don’t let them see what you are doing. Well, the Spirit tells me that one has to do with the way I live, and, the other has to do with an attitude of giving.
In the fifth chapter, Jesus is giving what has been dubbed the sermon on the mount. His statements leading up to verse 16 will help us to understand what He is saying when He finally gets to verse 16. Have a look beginning at Matt 5: 6 -16:
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt 5:6-16)
Verses 6-9 is talking about righteousness. It is a list of characteristics that describe righteousness:
- pure in heart
These characteristics of righteousness will cause us to stand out in the world as peculiar.
Some might not know how or, what to think about the way we live. Jesus says in the next verse (10) that you may get persecuted because of living righteously. Be comforted though because the Kingdom of God belongs to you.
In verse 11 Jesus says men shall revile you, and say all manner of evil about you falsely, for His sake (righteousness). Then He says again, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in heaven will be great.” And you are in good company because they persecuted the prophets before you.
These all lead up to what He says in verse 16. In verse 14 He begins to say that we are the light of the world and cannot be hidden. If we are living righteously, (always striving to do the right thing) it is impossible to be hidden, just as it is impossible for a city that sits upon a hill to be hidden. And He says you don’t light a candle to hide it under a bushel. You put out a candle to give light to everyone around.
So when He finally says in verse 16 to, “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” I understand that he is talking about ME and the way I live. When we are always striving to live right (righteously), always trying to do what is right, we seem peculiar to others.
I experience this at work on a regular basis. Some people I work with find it strange that I am not out chasing women, not out partying and drinking. I don’t cheat. I don’t steel and I don’t lie. I have received a moderate level of persecution for this. And they don’t even know the extent to which I try to live right. All they really know is that I don’t have a girlfriend, and, I’m not trying to seek one out. They can’t even seem to fathom a man that is not always thinking about women and sex.
The Spirit tells me to be strong and continue a righteous way of life. It a witness to those around me.
The verse in the 6th chapter of Matthew is talking about alms. The verse says,
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. (Matt 6:1).
This verse has to do with how we should be giving to others.
To give alms means money or food given to poor people. This does not have to do with the righteousness I am supposed to live before men, though it could be considered a righteous act. We are not to give to the poor, openly, to impress others. The motive is not correct, thus, we have not done the right thing (righteousness).
And we don’t want to be an embarrassment to those to whom we give. People may need help, but, they don’t need to be made to feel embarrassed about having to receive help from others.
Jesus says also, if we give with this attitude and to impress men, to draw attention to ourselves, we have no reward from the Father. This is a hugely different from living righteously before that the Father may be glorified.
“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues (churches) and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. (Matt 6:2-4)
So the two verse seemed to be talking about the same things but they were not. It was one of those places in the bible that seemed to be in conflict. When this happens all we need to do is pray and ask for instruction, and, have faith that God will show us what’s what.
I don’t know about you, but, I want to bring glory to my Father, and, I also want Him to be pleased with me.