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Let Your Light Shine

“Ye are the light of the world … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The Necessity of Light Bearing

The very purpose of being a Christian is to give light. Giving light is not an option which the disciple may or may not choose. In the time of Christ, the lamp in a home was set in a place where it would be safe and where it would be seen. It was not easy to rekindle a lamp in the days before matches, so when people went out for a short while they would take the lamp and put it under an earthen “bucket”  so that it could burn without risk until they got back. When they returned, they would uncover the lamp. We are not to hide the light of our testimony under the “bucket” of fear, like Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38), or allow it to be dimmed through unconcern for those around us, or by inconsistency and compromise, like Lot in the city of Sodom.

The Effects of Light Bearing

What are the effects of light? First, light exposes the things that are going on in the darkness. When our Lord came into the world, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light” (Matthew 4:16). If a Christian lives the Christian life before people, it is like a light going on. People will see the error and failure in their own way of thinking and living. Second, the light we have explains the cause of the troubles of the world—man’s estrangement from God and love of darkness. Third, light shows and provides the only way out of the darkness. It is not education, political reform, or international treaties. These things can only go so far. The Christian needs to tell the lost person there is a way to God, and that is to know the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God who came from Heaven to earth to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He came into the darkness and bore the guilt of this terrible sinfulness that has involved us in so much trouble.

The Motives for Light Bearing

What is the motive for letting our light shine? First, that other people might “see your good works.” In the original Greek, this word “good” usually describes the attractive form or appearance of a thing, rather than the quality of its content. This shows that the way things are done is important to the Lord. The Pharisees did their good works to make sure that others saw them. The good works of the Christian are special because of their modesty and mercy.

Our second motive for letting our light shine is that we might glorify our “Father which is in heaven.” Our good works should be transparent. They should not point to their agent (us), but to their source (the Father). Christian friend, our world is in darkness, and we have the light!

—Dr. David MacLeod, condensed