Problem: Jesus contradicts himself on secret good deeds
Verses: Matthew 5:16, Matthew 6:3-4; Status: Weak

This is Matthew 5:14-16:

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. (ESV)

There's a tension between that verse and Matthew 6:3-4:

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV)

This is probably not fatal. The good deeds in the first case are of a more general, unspecified sort. It's possible that Jesus means that the really big, heroic stuff should be and will be public, but things like giving alms are not to be done for appearances' sake only.

Updated: 2009-03-20

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