(Mt. 6:1) Should we show our good works to others or not?

CLAIM: Here Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 6:1). However, earlier Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). Should we show others our good works or not?

RESPONSE: There are two different types of actions being described here. The context shows how to interpret each statement.

Should we show our good works or not?

Matthew 5:16

Matthew 6:1

Good works that give the credit to God

Good works that give credit to ourselves

Others naturally notice our actions

We make others notice our actions (“do not sound a trumpet before you” Mt. 6:2—“so that they may be seen by men” Mt. 6:5)

Serves when no one is looking

Serves only when others can see it

Concerned to be used by God

Concerned with getting credit from people

Gets a reward from God (Mt. 6:4)

Gets a reward from men (Mt. 6:2)