To Show Your Work Or Not?

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When you were a kid were you told that you had to show your work on the math problems you were given to do in class? I will admit I always hatted doing that. Showing others our work is one of the things I think Christians struggle with. There are verses in the Bible that can confuse some because they seem to teach things that, on the surface, appear to be opposites. Should we hide the work we do for God from others, or do all our work out in the public eye so they can see it?

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Mathew 6:1). This chapter goes on to warn us not to do our giving, praying, and fasting so that others can see us doing these things. Doesn’t this verse teach us that we should hide our work from others? If we receive praise from men are we giving up our reward in heaven?

On the other hand, we see other verses like 1 Peter 2:12, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Doesn’t this verse teach us that the work we do has a purpose? That our work is to be seen by those around us to point them toward God?

I can see why some people struggle with knowing what to do. The chapter in Matthew 6 warns us against doing things to be seen by others. Each of the activities that Jesus warns us about are ones that only involve God and us. These activities are not work that helps others or shows God’s love to other members of the church and the community. They are acts of worship directed toward God, and do not need to be seen by the people around us.

Jesus Himself taught that we have a responsibility to show the love of God to others through our work. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mathew 5:14-16). Our works of love will gain attention from others. Our job is to make sure they know that God is the reason we work.

Brad Tolbert
Monticello church of Christ
Monticello, AR

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