The Scriptorium

Lighting the Way to Glory

Righteousness takes the form of good works. Matthew 5.16

Matthew 5: The Sermon on the Mount: Righteousness (3)

Pray Psalm 37.4-6.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Sing Psalm 37.4-6.
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Delight yourself in God’s salvation; He’ll give you all your heart’s desire.
Commit to Him your every station, and His good purpose will transpire.
Your righteousness a blazing light He will bring forth against the night.

Read Matthew 5.1-16; meditate on verse 16.

1. To what end does Jesus shine His light in and through us?

2. What is our responsibility for seeing this happen?

In this verse, Jesus clarifies His metaphor from verses 14 and 15: The light stands for good works (even beautiful works). The light that is in us shines through us good works, that is, works that refract the light of Christ in loving service to others. Our righteousness is supposed to be a blazing light before the people in our Personal Mission Field. But it is not enough that people see our good works.

Jesus says we must be so diligent, so focused, so thorough, and so open about good works, that people will see them and give glory to God. That is a tall order, indeed. Our goal is not to impress people with how good we are, but how good God is. Following the example of Jesus, we must tie our good works to true words, and be always ready, when people remark our good works, to give thanks to God, and to let them know that our good works are merely His instruments for bringing grace to the world.

The righteousness for which we hunger and thirst in the Kingdom of God is not merely a disposition of the soul. Our righteousness works out in good works, like those Jesus did, to bring mercy and peace to our world, and to provoke others to seek the hope that can be theirs in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 3.15). We must not fear to talk about Jesus with the people around us, nor to explain the ways His love reaches us, and reaches through us to touch others.

We may incur some form of persecution by so doing, but God will be glorified in our witness nonetheless. And when we receive their retorts and harrumphs with a smiling face and joy in our hearts, the Presence of Christ shows through us, and we will know His blessing (Matt. 5.11, 12).

We must prepare to let our light shine. Study to understand what good works are, and what they would look like as you go about in your Personal Mission Field (Rom. 7.12; Matt. 22.34-40). Plan to do good works (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17). Go out of your way, if necessary, to be a channel of God’s grace to those around you. Your good works will beautify your Personal Mission Field with the light of Jesus Christ. Imagine what the world would be like, if all Christians hungered and thirsted for righteousness in this way.

1. The Law of God teaches us what is holy and righteous and good. What role should the Law have in helping us let our light shine through good works?

2. How would you counsel a new believer to plan good works for each day?

3. What can we do to make sure God is glorified in the good works we do for others?

That person places the lamp under a bushel who obscures and conceals the light of good teaching with earthbound interests. Rather, one should place the truth up high “on the lampstand.” That indicates the light that shines as a result of bodily service, so that it is presented to believers through their embodied ministry. In this way our voices and tongues and other operations of the body are conveyed into good works by those who are learning.
Augustine (354-430), Sermon on the Mount 1.6.17

Help me to shine Your light today, Lord, because I see opportunities for good works in…

Pray Psalm 37.7-9, 34-40.
Wait on the Lord, and ask Him to give you strength to keep His way. Keep your eye on the promises of God, and ask Him to show you what righteousness and blamelessness must look like in all your activities today.

Sing Psalm 37.7-9, 40.
Psalm 37.7-9, 34-40 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Rest in the Lord and wait on Jesus; fret not at those who practice sin.
Forsake all wrath till anger ceases; let anxious fears not enter in.
The wicked perish from the Lord, but they are blest who heed His Word!

Wait on the Lord, His way observing, and He will lift you up on high.
Those prone to wicked ways preserving, your eyes shall see cast down to die.
The blameless man shall stand upright, for God preserves him by His might!

Salvation comes from Christ our Savior; He is our strength in time of need.
On us does He bestow His favor, who all His holy judgments heed.
He is our help in troubled times; our refuge He, in Him we hide.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore