I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m not sure what I’m doing in life. I go through my days trying to be productive, but at the end I wonder if I’m really doing anything worthwhile. I want to be a light, but I wonder if I’m filling my day with so many earthly distractions that I’m actually just reflecting them rather than being the light of the world, reflecting Him. This all really boils down to the ultimate question, what is my purpose?
I asked my husband the other day, “Do you think we’re doing what God wants us to do?” The question was a reflection of my internal struggle mentioned above. He reminded me that it probably isn’t so much about what we’re doing, but if we are glorifying God in it. I love that. I really do. Throughout my life as a believer, I come back to this basic tenet frequently---my purpose is to glorify God. I’m grateful for a companion that reminds me of this when my vision is cloudy.
God wants us to know this, too. He reminds us in scripture why He saved us to begin with—to reflect Him as the Light of the world and in so doing, glorify Him. “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. “Matthew 5:14-15
He wants us to be a light, but what does that mean practically? Thankfully, Jesus tells us in the next verse. “Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.” If I’m going to be a light, then I must be doing good things so that others will see our great God. This isn’t what saves me. This is what I become when I am saved.
So that then begs the question, “What are these good things I’m supposed to be doing?” At various points in my life I’ve believed that these things were reading my Bible daily without fail, having a clean cut appearance, surrounding myself with Christians at all times, voting Republican, being at church several times a week. You get the picture. Some of these things are scriptural and important to our ability to be a light, but some of these things are not. Some of them exist solely to make me look a certain part, but are frankly unimportant to God. I have spent some of my life trying to look the part, but I have found when doing so I am actually just glorifying myself. It’s when I’m taking a critical look at the Word of God, discovering and applying what He says the“good things” are, that I actually shine like Him. And He once again provides the answer to the question, what are these good things?” Read it with me. And actually read it. I have a terrible habit of reading a book or devotional and skimming over the Bible verses to read the authors words. Don’t be like me. Pay attention to what our great Author says.
“They say, ‘to honor you we had special days when we gave up eating, but you didn’t see. We humbled ourselves to honor your, but you didn’t notice.’” But the Lord says, “you do what pleases yourselves on these special days…you cannot do these things as you do and believe your prayers are heard in heaven. This kind of special day is not what I want….”I will tell you the kind of special day I want: Free the people you have put in prison unfairly and undo their chains. Free those to who you are unfair and stop their hard labor. Share your food with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes. When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours, and don’t refuse to help your own relatives. Then your light will shine like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your God will walk before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.” Isaiah 58: 3-8
I recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti where I had the privilege of digging a well for a local community with Living Water International and supplying beds for street boys through an organization called Streethearts. (I also had the privilege of being humbled on the soccer field by some teenagers. Thank you, Lord, especially for that one.) It has been a long time since I have felt this alive, and it has been made incredibly clear to me as to why that is. I was being a light by doing the good works God prepares for us to do—taking care of the poor, homeless, and hungry. I was glorifying God. I don’t think that’s an arrogant thing to say, although admittedly it sounds like it. I think it’s scriptural. I think it’s Truth. I think when we do what God has told us in scripture is what He wants from a believer, our light shines like the dawn and we glorify Him. We live out our purpose.
So here’s my challenge. Do the good works. Don’t just follow the laws or work hard at looking the part. Do the good works. Don’t overanalyze what it means to take care of the poor, hungry, and homeless. He doesn’t ask us to verify that they are worthy of help. He just tells us to come alongside them and provide. God has also made it crystal clear to me that I don’t have to go to Haiti to help the poor and hungry. There are people in our local community and in our local body of believers that need us to show compassion through action. I could talk for hours about why as believers it is a part of our DNA to take care of the poor (and we should begin to examine ourselves if we have no desire to do so), and if you give me much room on this blog I just might do that. But for now, I trust when I take God at his Word and do the small things I can do to take care of these people that He will walk before me, that my light will shine, and that I will glorify Him. I can think of no greater way to live.
“A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.”
~ D.L. Moody