“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
How can my good deeds bring glory to God?
This is a question that puzzles me, because lots of people do good deeds – Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist and atheists… everyone can do good deeds. Good people do good deeds. So how can I give glory to God through my good deeds; won’t they just make me look like a good person?
Here’s something God has been teaching me about good deeds these past six months.
I play an online game, and I suck. I really do.
It’s a team game where everyone has a job to do in the team and you work together to defeat the big nasty boss and as a reward you get shiny armour and weapons. You play as a team; you win as a team; you lose as a team.
I used to hit about as hard as a slug with a broken foot. It was pretty lame, but occasionally I did some damage to the boss. I did some good deeds. Just as anyone in the world can do some good deeds, just so I did some good playing from time to time.
Part of the reason I played so badly was because of the hardware. My potato laptop did not have a graphics card to cope with the rapid action of the game; it could not process my wild attacks as I headbutted the keyboard to make my little character desperately do some good work. I was utterly lost and needed saving from my rubbish hardware. Just as, in real life, I was utterly lost and stuck in sin and needed saving from my rubbish flesh.
Now, I couldn’t afford a nice computer. I could never dream of asking for one. But someone, as an act of sheer grace, knew I needed better hardware if I were ever to be useful to the team and so they gifted me one for Christmas.
I certainly didn’t earn that computer; my game-playing was shockingly bad. I didn’t deserve it. Moreover I couldn’t pay my friend back. Ever. Nor did they expect repayment. It was pure grace. An act of phenomenal and unexpected grace, just like how Jesus Christ died for me while I was still a sinner.
The only way to show my huge gratitude was to get the computer plugged in and start playing. And, hey presto! Considerable improvement in my game playing! I began to hit as hard as a slug with attitude. Sometimes even a slug with teeth.
So God taught me something about how undeserved his grace is – just like I totally didn’t deserve a computer as a reward for terrible game-playing, I didn’t deserve the love and grace He showed me in Jesus. But I’m thankful He did.
But that’s not the end of the story. Here’s where the good deeds begin.
Before Christmas, I occasionally hit the big nasty boss and did some good deeds. But after Christmas, I pressed the buttons and empowered by GRACE, my good deeds were plentiful, more enjoyable and a whole lot easier to come by. I can now do good deeds in a new and effective way, free from suckiness… and none of them bring any glory to me.
Every time I do some serious damage to the boss, it’s not because I am suddenly an awesome player. (Sadly, my reaction times and distracted approach to gaming haven’t changed. Yet.)
Grace enables me to do good deeds. Grace is the circuit and the processing power and the graphics that mean I can press the button at the right moment and do some good deeds. I could do good deeds before, but grace has revolutionised my ability, capability and motivation to do good deeds.
Whenever anyone congratulates me, I know it’s not me; it’s grace at work that allows these good deeds to happen. So I try to always say, “Thanks, but really the credit all goes to my friend. It was their grace that gave me some hardware that enables me to do good deeds. On my own, I really sucked. But now I’m running with this computer… look what grace can do!”
None of the glory goes to me. I don’t deserve any praise for my sucky efforts. Any good deeds I do in the game (and in real life!) are the result of grace. If I ever start to think I’m an awesome player, I look at the little blinking blue lights and am thankful for grace.
Grace has revolutionised my ability, capability and motivation to do good deeds. Without grace, I really suck.