Suggested Scripture Reading: Matthew 5 (The Sermon On the Mount)
Focal Passage: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
The word “light” is used hundreds of time in the Bible, and often as a symbol. Among its representations are purity, truth, divine revelation, knowledge and even Jesus Himself. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the form of energy that makes it possible to see things”. I believe that is the sense in which Jesus used it in the above passage. When the light of Jesus shines brightly within us, our works…indeed our very lives allow others to see Him through us.
There is a funny thing about light, though. It illuminates everything around it…the good and the bad. When we are living for Jesus, sometimes our very presence can irritate those around us. Our light exposes their sin, and that makes them uncomfortable. None of us wants to do that, and so we often “dim” our light to fit in. Not that we don’t want to shine, but maybe just not so brightly…so we don’t stick out and “bother” other people.
I spent some time in Savannah, GA this week at an annual convention I attend about every other year. As I was driving down, I was thinking of the people I would see that are usually there, and the thought occurred to me that I needed to share Christ with someone. I didn’t have anyone particular in mind, but as I thought about it one name popped into my mind and stayed there. For purposes of this study, I’ll call him Bill. He isn’t a close friend, but an acquaintance I’ve known for several years and that I see two or three times annually at events like this one.
As I set up for the show, it wasn’t long before I saw him. We talked a bit about business, and he left to speak to someone else. I saw him several times that day, but I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to say anything. We both had customers to take care of and we went about our duties…all day long.
The next day, things slowed down a bit, and he wandered over to me and struck up a conversation. Finally I steered it around to spiritual things. As I told him what Jesus meant to me, he stopped me in mid sentence and said, “Bob, I’m a Christian too…Jesus is my Lord and Savior”. We looked at each other for a few seconds in silence, and then both of us said at almost the same time, “Why didn’t we know?” As we were discussing this, I asked Bill if I had ever done or said anything in his presence that would lead him to think otherwise; to which he answered no.
I have thought about that question all week, and it is the reason for the verse I posted this past Wednesday. Why didn’t we each know that the other was a believer? I have come to this conclusion: It’s not that I had done anything bad in front of him for which I had to be ashamed, but apparently, when around him, my light had not shown brightly enough for him to notice it.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I don’t feel led to beat everyone I meet over the head with the Bible, or to walk around preaching to each person that crosses my path. But I believe we should all live in such a way, that when people are exposed to us on a regular basis, they should see a difference…we should “stick out” in a way that makes them want to know more about our lifestyle.
So how do we do that? When you think about it, we are not the source of that light, but merely reflectors. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so we should reflect the source of our light, Jesus Christ. We’re like solar powered yard ornaments that soak up the power of the sun all day so they can shine brightly when the darkness comes.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;”
On cloudy days without full sunshine, the solar lights I mentioned above will grow dim. Our power comes from His Word, and without soaking it up daily; our light can become dim as well. In addition, daily Bible study gives us the confidence to not only reflect His light, but to verbally share it. We should be not only examples of His grace, but also sharers of His grace.
“…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…” 1Peter 3:15.
This week may we all remember the words of the children’s song we learned long ago: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”.
Lord Jesus, help me to reflect Your light in all that I do. Not as a solar light that grows weak from lack of power, or a candle that flickers and disappears when the wind blows. But help me to be a beacon that shines bright for all to see and to light the way for others to find You.