Back in 2010 I taught a quilting class. Many of the 12 ladies in the class had never threaded a machine before, others had made many quilts and just wanted a night out with friends. All of them made the same quilt, Midnight Garden, designed by Sharon Sebrow.
I made my sample version following the printed colour scheme because I love bright colours on black.
Some of the ladies followed my lead, while others took an entirely different garden path. One chose a white background, another orange, another royal blue and another chose a deep purple.
They were all beautiful. They were recognizable as a Midnight Garden quilt, but they also reflected the personalities and preferences of the unique women who made them.
In many ways, our lives should be like those different quilts. We should be recognizable as Christians, while at the same time embracing and celebrating our individuality.
Jesus said, "Let your lights shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Using that as our pattern tells us two things.
First of all, we should be shining lights in our world, doing good deeds as a simple matter of everyday living. A good deed shouldn't be out of the ordinary for us. Doing good, showing kindness and caring, should be the norm. It should be how we are known in our communities.
Second, those good deeds are not to be done to draw attention to ourselves. It isn't "Do good deeds so everyone will think you're a good person," or "Do good deeds so people will like you," or even "Do good deeds so you can get into heaven." Nope. Our good deeds are supposed to point people to God, causing them to praise Him.
What are these good deeds we are supposed to be doing? Jesus didn't specify in this passage what they should be. There are generalities given in the Bible, but not specifics. We are told to love one another (John 15:17), to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30) and to consider others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Within those guidelines, there are as many possibilities as there are people on this earth.
I machine stitched around my Midnight Garden flowers. Some of the ladies hand stitched around theirs with a blanket stitch and one lady hand stitched x's all around each flower. They are still the same flower. Though my background is black and Rose's is purple, they are both Midnight Garden quilts.
Your good deeds will likely be different from mine, but as long as we are both doing things that bring praise to God we will be recognizable as belonging to Him.