Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) Anytime believers engage in good deeds in the Name of Christ, the goal is always that people would see something of the glory of God and be stirred within to praise Him. But almost without exception, when believers do good things in Jesus’ Name, their motives, their source of strength and power, or the significance of the deeds are misunderstood, and observers do not praise the God of the Bible.
Therefore, when believers help the needy in the Name of Christ, their good deeds require an explanation that leads people to glorify God. Usually, the best way to explain our good deeds is to share the Gospel or some portion of Gospel truth.
For example, in Acts 3, Peter and John heal a man who had been lame from birth. When people who knew him saw him walking, they were amazed. But they misunderstood the good deed Peter had done. They thought that Peter and John had healed the lame man by their own power. So Peter responds, “…why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” Peter immediately explains the healing by explaining the Gospel. The flow of Peter’s explanation is, Jesus Christ is God’s Son and Servant, He died unjustly on a cross, He was raised from the dead, and it is faith in the resurrected Jesus that has healed this man. Peter’s explanation climaxes in an awesome invitation: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you …”
In Acts 14, the same thing happens. When Paul and Barnabus heal a lame man in Lystra, the crowds who saw what Paul did for this man totally misinterpreted the event and assumed that Paul and Barnabus must be gods. They actually thought Paul was Hermes and that Barnabus was Zeus, and the priest of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to sacrifice to them! Paul and Barnabus are understandably alarmed and begin shouting to the crowd that they are not gods but simply men who preach the gospel so that they may turn from the worship of false gods to the living God.
Good deeds are often misinterpreted in our time as well. While helping a Thai villager rebuild his home after the tsunami last year, he said to me, “Your god is going to give you a lot of merit.” Because he naturally interpreted my good deeds through his Buddhist world view, he assumed that my motive for helping him was to make merit with my god and build good karma. This opened a door of opportunity. I explained that God does not give merit but something better. The Thai villager was shocked – so shocked that he was primed to listen to me talk about the awesome grace of God in Christ Jesus.
So, as we engage in good deeds of any kind in the Name of Christ, we have to explain our motives, the source of our strength, and make connections to the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus. The best way to do this is to talk about Jesus and the Gospel of our salvation. Our prayer as we engage in good deeds is always that people see what a glorious Savior Jesus is, and glorify the Father who sent Him.
— Chip Scivicque