Should We Let Our Good Works Be Seen?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether we should let our good works be seen. The argument is that Matthew 6:1-4 and 23:3-5 say that we should not let our good works be seen, but Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12 say that we should let our good works be seen. However, the answer to this alleged contradiction in the Bible is extremely simple.

Scriptures – Should We Let Our Good Works Be Seen?

We Should Not Let Our Good Works Be Seen

1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,

Matthew 23:3-5

We Should Let Our Good Works Be Seen

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 5:16

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:12

The Answer

We Should Not Let Our Good Works Be Seen for Selfish Reasons

There is simply no contradiction at all between the passages. Matthew 6:1-4 and 23:3-5 are saying that we should not let our good works be seen for selfish reasons, while Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12 are saying that we should let our good works be seen if our goal is to glorify God.

In Matthew 6:1-4 and 23:3-5, Jesus is attacking the Pharisees, whose “good works” are merely external and done so that other people will praise them for their good works. In Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:12, the good works referred to are true good works that, when seen, will result in God being glorified.

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

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