Nobody likes having a flashlight shined in their eyes, and we definitely don’t like driving down the road at night with the person behind us shining his or her high beams at us. It’s not fun. When walking through a dark house at night, though, and the power’s off, give me the biggest, brightest, boldest light or flashlight you can find!
A light helps us see where we’re going. A light helps us stay safe as we’re going through a house or down a path. A light helps us see what’s ahead of us. Light helps keep us secure, shows us the way, shows us things that we want to see, and sometimes shows us things we don’t want to see. That’s the nature of light: it shows us things.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus talks about light as it relates to the church and Christians. In these verses, we see three things:
- Jesus calls his followers the light of the world
- Jesus gives instructions on what not to do
- Jesus reveals to us the ultimate purpose
Let’s take a look at the first thing Jesus teaches.
You Are the Light of the World
In verse 14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Christians should be the ones who offer the right direction to a world that drifts further and further into sin and degradation. Christians and the Church are the ones who must show the gospel, live the gospel, and preach the gospel. Christians must help people recognize their sin and their need for Jesus. We are supposed to be the ones that bring the good news and live the good news in this fallen, selfish world.
However, it’s not our light that’s shining. Rather, it’s the light of Jesus—who is the light himself—shining in us and through us.
We are the light of the world because we have Jesus in our lives. We are the light of the world because we follow and obey Jesus. We are the light of the world because we know, show, and share the gospel of Jesus.
How, though, do we shine Jesus’ light? We shine the light of Christ through our works
It’s through the things that we do that the light of Jesus most brightly shines.
When we show compassion and love to other people, the light of Jesus is shining. When we live out the gospel and show them through our actions that we love Jesus, the light of Jesus is shining. When we take time to help those in need, the light of Jesus is shining. When we show kindness and mercy and compassion to the heartbroken, the light of Jesus is shining. When we show love to those who spit in our face and mock us and hate us, the light of Jesus is shining.
Although Jesus said we are to be the light of the world, the sad truth is that we don’t always do that. This leads us to the second thing Jesus teaches us.
Don’t Hide the Light
He says in verse 15, “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.” What Jesus is saying is this: don’t hide the light.
There are many ways in which the Church can hide the light of Christ.
When we choose not to act on our faith, we’re hiding the light. When we say we love Jesus yet act like we don’t love anybody, we’re hiding the light. When we refuse to help or, even worse, show indifference, we’re hiding the light. When we fail to share the gospel with someone, we’re hiding the light. When we fail to know, show, and share the gospel of Jesus, then we’re hiding the light.
Jesus made it quite clear that, as his followers, we are not to hide the light, but we must let it shine for all to see. However, Jesus warned us against doing things in a vain, self-absorbed, braggadocious manner: if we seek worldly praise, then that praise is our just reward.
Rather than pointing to ourselves, we must point people to Christ Jesus! This leads us to the final verse.
Shine Bright for God’s Glory
In verse 16, Jesus says, “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.” Jesus is saying that the reason for shining the light is so that God will be glorified! We do things for other people because we love God and because we want to show God’s love to those around us. We serve others so that they can join us in praising and glorifying God.
When we take the glory and point it to ourselves, then we’re taking God’s glory and claiming it as our own. Rather, we must do things so that more people can be saved and glorify God along with us. It’s about Jesus and Jesus’ purposes.
So, let me just bring all this home.
Bringing It Home
This passage is really short and very simple: we are to be the light of the world letting Jesus’ light shine in us and through us. We do this by the things we do.
When we show kindness, mercy, compassion, and grace, then Jesus’ light is shining. But when we show animosity or indifference, then we’re hiding the light.
When we share the gospel with someone and give them a chance to receive Jesus, then the light of Jesus is shining. But when we remain silent and do not tell others about Jesus, then we’re hiding the light.
As Christians, we’re not to hide the light, but instead, we must let the light shine. We’re supposed to do the work that we’re called to do—knowing, showing, and sharing the gospel of Jesus—so that God will be glorified.
How are you bringing God glory through serving others? How are you going to start if you haven’t been doing so already? If you have been, what have you been doing? Comment below and let me know.