Let it Shine

Duane Vander Klok

If you attended Sunday School as a child, you may remember singing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” It may seem like a cute children’s song, but it actually offers a simple theology that should challenge believers of all ages.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

God’s message here is plain: as believers, each of us is called to live in a way that gives light to others. Anything less would be like hiding a lamp under a bushel basket and expecting the room to be filled with light.

The World
The world is a dark place, and scripture tells us that it is going to grow even darker in the last days. Paul said, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:2-5).

It would be hard to deny that the world is growing darker. In recent years, there has been a rapid decline in morality – to the point where, in the United States and some other countries, even the definition of marriage has been changed to allow same sex couples to be legally wed. Abortions are performed matter-of-factly, and actions are evaluated in light of their situational context rather than by moral absolutes. Clearly, people are becoming more and more blinded by sin as darkness seeks to envelop the earth.

Paul wrote, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Sadly, this seems to be the case today. Many people – even some in the church – appear to have lost their moral consciences. Light is needed now more than ever!

Our Mission 
In John 8:12, Jesus identified Himself as “the Light of the world.” Later, He said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (John 9:5). Since His resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, His disciples – including you and me – share the mission of shining forth His light.

Our lives should declare to the world what God’s grace has done. The Apostle Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Since we have been called out of darkness, the way we conduct our daily lives – the way we speak, our attitudes, our actions and our character – ought to reflect God’s work in us. Because of His presence in our lives, we can convey a sense of hope, a positive outlook, and a perspective that looks beyond the troubles of this life. God’s plan is that, as we shine in this world, many people will be drawn to Him.

Living Above
It is interesting that, in the context of telling His disciples to let their lights shine, Jesus also talked about murder, adultery, and how enemies should be treated. He said not only should we not commit murder, but we should not even be angry and hold a grudge (Matthew 5:21-26). Not only should we not commit adultery, but we should not even entertain lustful thoughts (Matthew 5:27-29). We shouldn’t just love our neighbors, but we should also love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-44).

In Matthew 5:46-48, Jesus asks, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” These questions help clarify the difference between God’s standard and the world’s.

The Apostle Peter offers helpful advice for living above the world’s ways. He writes: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Our love, our words and our actions are vital to others coming to Christ!

Don’t Hide It
Even the brightest light does no good when it is hidden. While none of us would actually put a lamp under a basket, we do sometimes hide our lights.

Your light is hidden if you:
• remain silent when you know you should speak up
• go along with the crowd
• live inconsistently
• say one thing and do another
• act out of anger instead of showing God’s love
• let sin dim your witness.

Your light shines bright when you:
• love God and others – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and…love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39)
• renew your mind –  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)
• walk in the Spirit – “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16)
• are steadfast – “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
• do the right thing – “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right”(Proverbs 20:11)
• are courageous – “The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion”(Proverbs 28:1)
• live consistently – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful”(Hebrews 10:23).

Today, whether young or old, we must let our light shine in a world that needs to see the love of God in action. That is only going to happen when we live lives that are noticeably different from unbelievers.

You and I are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its value system. John 17:14-19 reveals this as Jesus prayed, “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” 

Jesus has placed you to be a light wherever you are because He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

You may not always feel like a light. You may even think that you are unprepared to shine. Put those thoughts aside and remember that, as a follower of Jesus, He has already said to you, “You are the light of the world.” 

Let your light shine!
(All scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible.)

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