Why do Good?

2020-02-07 – Year A – Epiphany 5 – Scout Sunday – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
2 Kings 22:8-20; Psalm 27; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20

  • Have you ever heard someone described as “salt of the earth”?
  • “a person of great kindness, reliability, or honesty.”
    • This describes many boy scouts. Scout law, oath, slogan “do a good turn daily”
    • “Salt of the earth has its origin in the passage from the Gospel of Matthew
  • Jesus was explaining to his followers how he wanted them to behave in the world by using three metaphors: salt, light, and a city.

Salt and Light

  • Salt
    • Preservative
      • Monastic houses preserved learning through the Middle ages by tirelessly copying and preserving manuscripts.
    • Makes things tasty (this seems to be the main point of what Jesus was saying, v. 13 “lost its taste”)
      • Christians are supposed to help make the world a tastier place to be.
      • You could take this literally and use your culinary skills, but there are other ways to make the world tastier.
      • Some of the greatest works of art and music have been created by Christians over the centuries. Bach, Michaelangelo, Handel.
  • Light
    • Pierces darkness
      • Eusebius of Caesaria writing about a plague in the early 300s “…pestilence and famine, destroyed whole families in a short time, so that one could see two or three dead bodies carried out at once…Every day some [Christians] continued caring for and burying the dead, for there were multitudes who had no one to care for them; others collected in one place those who were afflicted by the famine, throughout the entire city, and gave bread to them all; so that the thing became noised abroad among all men, and they glorified the God of the Christians””
        • A Wuhan Pastor recently wrote an anonymous letter encouraging the Christians of the City to be salt and light and asking Christians around the world to pray.
      • Christians like William Wilberforce were instrumental in ending the slave trade and many Christians are still correcting injustice around the world.

Motives

  • Why do we do good things? I can think of four basic motives, some good, some not.
  • To earn favor with men and with God
    • Earning favor with men comes from a sense of pride
      • Make ourselve look good and help us to be liked by others
      • “[Do a good turn daily] means looking for opportunities to help and then helping, quietly and without boasting.”
    • Earning favor with God is a slightly better motive, but based on false assumptions. God already loves you more than you can imagine.
      • There is nothing you can do that will make God love you more
      • You also can’t outweigh your bad deeds with your good deeds. We are all so trapped in sin that only Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross can cover our sins. Ephesians 2:8–9.
  • Sense of obligation or duty – It is the right thing to do
    • This is a noble motive, but if that is your only motive you will get burned out.
    • In the end, this too is usually about justifying ourselves as “good people”
  • Out of thanksgiving to God for his grace
    • Not to pay God back, but to say Thank you.
    • James 2:17-18.
  • To glorify God in the world and point the way to him
    • This is what our Gospel passage this morning is talking about. Matthew 5:16.
    • Food giveaway. Not only feeding bellies but also feeding souls with God’s word.

What do we Do?

  • Let your light shine!
    • The light that we shine is not the good things that we do, the light is Jesus!
      • John 8:12 “I [Jesus] am the light of the world.”
    • All the light (goodness) in this world is God’s light
    • As Christians we become conduits of that light. This is why Jesus also says the “you are the light of the world.” he is not contradicting himself.
      • As Christians we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, thus we are supposed to be bearers of his light wherever we go.
      • “Jesus’ disciples have the kingdom life within them as a living testimony to those in the world who do not yet have the light.”
  • Look around you and consider how you can bring glory to God through your actions.
    • “Some Good Turns are big things; saving a human life at the risk of loosing your own… rescue work in floods… service in hurricane-stricken areas… helping to fight a forest fire… working with your patrol on a conservation project… giving younger boys a good time in Cub Scouting by working as a den chief. But Good Turns more often are small things, thoughtful things; helping a child cross the street… clearing trash off the highway… picking up broken glass from the street… telephoning the power company to report a live wire.”
    • Where can you add beauty and make this world a better place to live?
    • Where can you shine light in the midst of darkness?
    • How can you make someone’s day just a bit better?
    • Matthew 5:16.

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