“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 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)
In our article last week, we looked at the reasons why Jesus used the analogy of “light” to describe His disciples and their role in the world:
o God is light (I Jn. 1: 5) and desires that His children live pure and holy lives by the light revealed in His Word (I Pet. 1: 15-16). Our Saviour Who is “the light of the world”, promised that whosoever followed Him “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8: 12).
o Light is conspicuous. Because of their different convictions, values and perspectives, Christ’s disciples stand out as beacons in a dark and sinful world. Just as “a city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matt. 5: 14b), their daily conduct “cannot be hid” any more than a city that is built upon a hill which is visible to one and all. To maintain their witness as “the light of the world”, they must walk circumspectly before God and men.
o Light shines for the blessing of others. Light has many benefits. It enlightens and guides those in darkness. A light that is hidden or covered is of no use to anyone: “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matt 5: 15). Believers must shine forth their light for all to see. Their lives must testify of the love and grace of Christ their Saviour.
Another reason why the Lord alluded to His disciples as “the light of the world” is – for the glory of God:
o Light shines for the glory of God
In the following verse, Jesus charged His disciples to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5: 16). A Christian is a shining light when his faith is reflected through his life and conduct as he lives in obedience to God’s Word.
What are some examples of how a Christian’s light can “so shine before men”?
• He shows Christ’s love by loving the brethren: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13: 34-35).
• He is not embittered by life’s trials nor be overwhelmed by them as he commits them to the sovereign God Who does all things well: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8: 28).
• When hurt or offended, he does not seek revenge as he follows the example of his gracious Saviour Who “committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (I Pet. 2: 21-23).
• Always mindful of God’s grace upon him, he deals kindly and graciously with His fellowmen (Eph. 4: 32).
The changed life of the believer, with its new perspectives and values, will be a powerful testimony of God’s transforming grace. Those who see his “good works” will think well of Christianity and of the power of God. These favourable influences may illumine their minds and draw them to know the Lord and to give Him due glory.
“The holy, regular, and exemplary conversation of the saints, may do much towards the conversion of sinners; those who are unacquainted with religion, may hereby be brought to know what it is. Examples teach. And those who are prejudiced against it, may hereby be brought in love with it, and thus there is a winning virtue in a godly conversation” (Matthew Henry).
Brethren, we live in a world of darkness and sin, a world that needs the light of the glorious Gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ has called us to be “the light of the world” – to enlighten and to direct lost sinners to the way of everlasting life. Let us shine forth our light by reflecting the love and grace of our Saviour through our lives. May the Lord use our good witness and works to draw lost souls unto Himself. Amen.