“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:16
Good works are acts of love. They come from a good mind, good intentions, and good hands. They are acts of benevolence that bring about joy and blessing. “God…does great things which we cannot comprehend,” we read in Job 37:5. Sometimes, we don’t comprehend the loving intention behind it.
The Lord Jesus often perceived that people were annoyed by His deeds, His words, and His sermons. Reactions of this kind are still quite common today. This annoyance can lead to various evil actions. According to John 10:32, Jesus once said to His adversaries, “Many good works have I shown you from my Father. For which of those do you stone Me?” Here, He had seen the reaction that was fraught with danger for Him. These people had not understood His good works, nor the pure, divine goodwill behind them.
The position that our Lord took wants to teach us something. We need to realize that our acts of love might not always be rightly understood nor judged. We may sometimes experience great disappointments, and the desired effect we hope for may fail to materialize.
Many people experienced this, especially in the post-war period. I remember the war years in Poland. Fellow countrymen were disenfranchised, and not everyone was doing particularly well. The German farmers stationed there did their best to help others. However, in the post-war years, many proudly and contemptuously passed by their benefactors and acted as if they did not know them at all.
In other cases, however, the good works were not forgotten. Many lives were even saved. In Hebrews 13:16, we are told: “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The harvest shows what is sown, and it is coming!
In a village in Russia, a father, with great effort, built a house for himself and his son’s family. When they were ready to move in, a large, impoverished refugee family showed up in that village with no place to stay. A deep compassion seized the old man, and he said, “We cannot leave this needy family on the street,” and he let them move into his new house. This act of love was not forgotten. The old man lived alone for a time, and when the refugee family received permission to immigrate to Germany, they took the old man along and cared for him lovingly until his death. Acts of love are often associated with humility and self-denial.
When I was twelve, I escaped from servitude on a Polish farm and was now being hunted. The hand of the Lord was upon me, for I found refuge with a widow who had a small hut and owned two goats. She kept me hidden for ten days and fed me daily with bread and milk. This was a delicacy for me, coming from a loving hand. So I learned through others to do good as well.
Are there still sacrificial acts of love in our lives? Or are we so focused on ourselves that we no longer see our neighbor in his time of need? Brother Rudolf Fichtenberg wrote:
Acts of love have shown many a downcast soul to Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We learn that doing good helps others and brings blessings to ourselves. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). Our acts of love are not forgotten by God. “For indeed your reward is great in heaven,” Jesus said (Luke 6:23).
The greatest act of love was done by God Himself. It became visible for the entire world in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. John wrote: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This act of love by God, in the giving of His Son, surpasses all acts of love that ever existed on this earth. It has also borne the greatest fruit, for through Jesus’ death on the cross, reconciliation with God and eternal life have become possible for all people. Our Lord is therefore justified in expecting acts of love from us as well. In Hebrews 6:10, we read: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister.”
Remember, many people are waiting for acts of love, which are a light in the darkness! Therefore, do not let them be absent from your life, for they bring joy to despondent hearts, and the Lord God will reward them one day.