Patrick shows us how to combine Gospel preaching and Gospel living for effective witness:
He keeps Christ’s blessed commandments in all things,
his bright deeds shine forth among men;
and they follow his holy miraculous example,
so that they too magnify God the Father in heaven.
– Sechnall, on Patrick, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 5th century
“In the same way, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 5.16
We think of Patrick primarily as an evangelist, wandering up and down Ireland, preaching the Gospel to peasants and princes alike, and gathering a harvest of “many thousands”, as he tells us in his Confession. If we examine his witness, however, we will discover that it was as much a witness of works as words. Patrick taught literacy. He purchased slaves to freedom. He cared for widows and orphans, taught and discipled untold numbers of Ireland’s sons and daughters, ordained men to the ministry, and sheltered women who devoted themselves to the service of God. While he could be stern – witness his Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus – he was typically gentle, selfless, humble, and always aware of his own “rusticity”, as he referred to it. Patrick’s witness for Christ was so powerful because it combined the clarity of Gospel preaching with the brilliance of Gospel living. If we try for one without the other we will compromise our witness, misrepresent our King, and fail in our Kingdom calling. We are to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1.8), not just “go witnessing.” And we are to proclaim the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, not just ensconce ourselves safely in it against the threats of a dark and foreboding age. But we must lead with deeds – good works, conspicuously and selflessly performed before our contemporaries, who will only be able to explain what they see in us by resort to the grace of God. And then they will glorify Him with us, as the Irish and generations of Europeans for three-and-a-half centuries after Patrick glorified God because of the bright deeds he embodied during sixty years of ministry. What opportunities for bright deeds are awaiting you today?
Lord, keep me alert to every opportunity to shine with Your brilliance today, and let me touch others with your grace, whether in small deeds or great.
[This post is from T. M. Moore’s daily devotional email called Crossfigell. You can sign up to receive Crossfigell free at his website.]