Matthew 5:16, Should your good works be seen of men?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

//One of the basic instructions we understand as Christians is to “let our light shine.” As 1 Peter 2:12 puts it, keep your “conduct honorable among the Gentiles,” that “they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

But can there be too much of a good thing? The Bible seems to contradict itself on this topic. Matthew says of the scribes and Pharisees, “all their works they do to be seen by men.” Check out the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 6, which gives it to us straight:

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

So, what do we do? Humbly hide our good works, or proudly let them shine? I’m sure I’m fooling nobody; humility, balance, and moderation should be our guide.

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