Search the Scriptures: A reputation for well doing

Jonathan McAnulty - Search the Scriptures



Some five to ten years after the church was first established, God sent Peter to preach to the household of Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman centurion, stationed in Caesarea, about 55 miles from Jerusalem. The conversion of his family to Christianity was the beginning of the Gospel being taken to the nations, for previously it had solely been preached to the descendants of Abraham: the Jews and the Samaritans.

As was his habit, Peter began his lesson by talking about Jesus, saying, “As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:36-38; ESV)”

Though some years had passed, the reputation of Jesus was such that in discussing His person, very little introduction was needed. Peter could confidently assert, of individuals he had just met, that the events surrounding the ministry of Jesus were well known to all. Simply put, Jesus did so much good, that He established a firm reputation for well-doing, a reputation which spread throughout all of Judea (of which Caesarea was a city) and Galilee and even further abroad.

Even while yet alive, the reputation of Jesus became such that He could not escape notice, even when He tried. There was, for instance, that occasion when desiring some solitude with His disciples, He journeyed north, out of Galilee, to the city of Tyre in Phoenicia. But He was still recognized and approached for help by the mother of an afflicted daughter (cf. Mark 7:24-25).

In this, Jesus fulfilled His own command: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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 5:14-16; ESV)”

Followers of Jesus today do well to ask ourselves, how well are we letting our light shine? Are we following in the path of our Lord and Savior, establishing such a reputation for doing good that our name is synonymous with the same? Is the Lord’s church known for its love and compassion in the community? Are individual Christians known as exemplars of kindness, generosity, and a willingness to do whatever is possible to make the lives of others better?

Jesus expected that His followers would be so focused, giving us a “new commandment,” that we love one another in the same way He had loved us, thus truly showing all the world that we are indeed His faithful disciples (cf. John 13:34-35). The love of Jesus was a love that was focused on the spiritual welfare of the recipient, but it was also a love which did not neglect doing good at any and every possibility.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (John 3:16-18; ESV)”

This is not to say that we should be doing good simply so others will notice (cf. Matthew 6:1). We should not be motivated by a desire for compliments, recognition, or awards. We are not to serve others as people-pleasers, but are instead to labor as if we were working for the Lord, desiring that reward which comes from the Lord (cf. Ephesians 6:6-8). Nonetheless, a love practiced in imitation of Christ is a love which will be noticed. It will be noticed by those in the home. It will be noticed by those neighbors whom you are helping. It will be noticed by the community. And, most importantly, it will be noticed by Christ, who is watching His servants to see how well they are following in His footsteps.

So then, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10; ESV).”


Jonathan McAnulty

Search the Scriptures

Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.

Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.