Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)

IMAGINE YOU GOT FIFTY LIKES on a Facebook status about your decision to pay for the meal of the person in line behind you at the drive-through. It would feel great, right? You’re inspiring others to do random acts of kindness and earning a little love in the process. Maybe. Or maybe that kind of approval ultimately feels empty and useless. Perhaps it depends on your motivation.

When Jesus told us to let our good deeds shine, He provided a motivation for us: so that everyone will “praise your Father in heaven.” Our good works are like lights that are held high. Light pushes away darkness, brings hope, directs the way, warms a room, reveals hidden things, and calms fears. A light in the darkness is a blessing to others. Of course, providing light can also be risky because it makes us a target for those who conspire in the darkness.

When we have proper motivation, we need neither seek approval nor fear the consequences. How often do you look at the light when you turn it on? Usually, we look away from it, toward the things it reveals. In the same way, when we reveal our good works to others, we should do so in such a way that people don’t even notice us. Instead, they glorify God because of how He has blessed them (through us).

Do an act of kindness and let it point to Christ.

Heather Gemmen Wilson is the author of the Global Warning Series (WPH), a fiction series for preteens. She is married to a Wesleyan pastor.