“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)
There are two extremes in Christendom when it comes to good works. In one extreme, there are those who focus too heavily on good works, thinking that our good works somehow contribute to our salvation, whether consciously or not. In the other extreme, there are those who are so averse to the idea that our works contribute to our salvation (and rightly so), that they become averse to the idea of good works themselves. Neither extreme is correct nor God-honoring.
It is true that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is also true that those who follow Christ are expected to complete good works. It does not contribute to a Christian’s salvation, but it pours out of a saved person’s heart. Those who have had their sins removed and placed on Christ, those who have had the righteousness of Christ imputed onto them, long to be the light of the world. They long to be the salt of the earth. Christians love serving God and loving others to the end that the world may see our good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Of course, because of our flesh, we have the tendency to become prideful about good works, and so we must guard ourselves against pride with the help of the Holy Spirit. Our righteousness must exceed “that of the scribes and Pharisees” (v20). They only enacted good works for the praise of man. Our good works must be born out of a heart that desires to glorify God, or else they’re not really good. We let our light shine before others not for our own exaltation, but for His and His alone.