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Affluent Christian Investor | October 23, 2017

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Alms in Secret vs. Light on a Hill: Did Jesus Contradict Himself About Self Promotion?

Thank you for your comments last week concerning the issue of self-promotion. If you missed the start of the series, I would encourage you to go back and read it along with the original post from November 2012. Make sure you read the comments people made and then add yours to the discussion at the end of this entry.The basic issue before us is this: What is self-promotion and is it inappropriate to engage in it?


My thought for this week is found in Matthew 5:14-16, where it says to do your deeds so others can see:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Later in the same sermon, Jesus gave this warning:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, . . .” (Matthew 6:1-2).

Here we have an important distinction. We are not to parade our righteous acts, such as giving alms, which will glorify self but we are to show forth our good deeds that will glorify God. Now, since God has given you your gifts and purpose that will enable you to do your good deeds, then I conclude that, in most cases, it is permissible to let people know what you are doing and  what you can do when God enables and empowers you to do so. Do you agree or not?


What’s more, if God has given you gifts and a purpose and those are to be used to help others, then isn’t letting people know what you can to serve them consistent with letting your light shine as we read above?  1 Peter 4:10 states, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I can organize and do it quite well since God helps me do it. Am I permitted to say, “I have an organizational gift that is well developed; how can I help you?” It seems that adding the piece that my good deeds are to serve others as well as to glorify God makes self-promotion more acceptable and palatable than when it is simply to show off what I can do.

I hope you will “weigh in’ this week and add to our discussion. Furthermore, I pray you will read what is being written so that you can develop your own personal philosophy that will enable you to comfortably promote what God has put into and done in your life so that others can benefit and grow. Thank you, and have a blessed week!


Originally published on The Monday Memo from John Stanko.

John Stanko was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Duquesne University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

Since then, John has served as an administrator, teacher, consultant, author, and pastor in his professional career. He holds a second master’s degree in pastoral ministries, and earned his Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh in 2011.

John founded a personal and leadership development company, called PurposeQuest, in 2001 and today travels the world to speak, consult and inspire leaders and people everywhere. From 2001-2008, he spent six months a year in Africa and still enjoys visiting and working on that continent, while teaching for Geneva College’s Masters of Organizational Leadership and the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most recently, John founded Urban Press, a publishing service designed to tell stories of the city, from the city and to the city.


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