There are times when reading Scripture that it seems to contradict itself. I remember a seminary professor once telling us if Scripture seems to contradict itself or appears to not agree with science or experience, it is our understanding and/or interpretation that is in error NOT the Word of God. If we begin with the unwavering premise that God’s Word is true, it being the plumbline, we are far better off than using our experience or understanding as what’s true and trying to make God’s Word make sense in light of it.
For example, Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have not reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 I remember reading in just the chapter before, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
These two portions of Scripture seem to contradict each other. Don’t do your works to be seen by others and don’t hide your works but rather let them be seen by others. But taking a closer look they don’t contradict at all. In the first verse Jesus says don’t practice righteousness before others to be seen by them, thereby drawing attention to self. The second verse says, let your light shine before others so they may see your good works and give glory to God, thereby drawing attention to the Father.
The heart motivation of the first is personal glory; the heart motivation of the second is God’s glory.
I know for me it is often difficult to draw the line between the two. I may start out motivated by God’s glory but somewhere along the way I slip into wanting at least some of the glory for myself. Anyone else like that? May God’s glory will be our greatest joy, passion and pursuit. Today.
Diane Hunt is a Biblical Counselor, Women’s conference and retreat speaker and author. She serves as the Director of Partner Care and Director of Women’s Ministries at America’s Keswick. She and her husband John have two married children and four grandchildren. She loves reveling in warm sunny climates and playing with her grandchildren.