By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. – Proverbs 11:11
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“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:1-3
“Diligent hands bring wealth.” – Proverbs 10:4 NIV
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”(Romans 12:2)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14 (NIV)
Jesus continues to speak to us from His “Sermon on the Mount,” and one poignant charge from that multitudinous message is still relevant today. It is the one prefaced by His declaration in the key text: “You are the light of the world.”
In that declaration, He did not ask a question, express an opinion, or mince words. No! Without apology or theatricals, Jesus Christ made a categorical statement: “you are.” It wasn’t a case of “you will be” or “you were.” It was a very important message based on timing, and the timing was right for Him to declare those who believe and profess Him as Lord to be “the light of the world”.
Earlier on at the creation of the world, God had been confronted with thick darkness. As the Bible describes it: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2. To confront this thick darkness, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” verse 3.
Later, when God became flesh and dwelt among men, He was confronted with a pervasive spiritual darkness that was as thick as the one at the creation of the world. Matthew 4 gives us a glimpse of what He experienced shortly after He began His public ministry as He journeyed from place to place:
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about Him spread all over Syria, and people brought to Him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and He healed them.” – Matt.4:23-24
A New Kind of Light
And now, during His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus saw a form of darkness that found a fitting comparison with the void and formless, deep darkness that He saw at creation. On a mission of re-creation and re-birth, He sat down on the mount to teach. He was surrounded by His disciples, and the great crowds which followed Him “from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan”- Matthew 4:25. It was against this background and to this multitudinous audience on the mount that He declared a new kind of “Let there be light”- words He uttered during His earlier miracle at creation.
In that poignant statement, Christ declared what He had known from the foundation of the world – namely, that man was created to make a difference in his world. He knows that we were created far above and beyond the best that we have accomplished so far. He longs to unleash the power that is inherent in every soul united in Him, and which is what the world needs to be able to see the God that we serve. And so, He lets us in on a secret that many of us still do not realize: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” By our confession of faith in Christ and a decision to live for Him, we need to embrace “You are the light of the world as our identity and also our divine mandate.
Christ continued His charge on the mount with how the light was to be disseminated. In His days, lamps were a common source of light. Their rightful place was on stands of different types—tables, sides of walls, suspensions from ceilings, anywhere up so that its rays would be spread to every corner of the room. Light was never meant to be placed on the floor and it wasn’t done. Not in Jesus’ time, not in our own days. Hence, Christ reminded His audience of the common sense approach to handling light: “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.” – Matthew 5:15.
Having reminded of what is commonly done, He then followed up with the charge: “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.” – Matthew 5:16. And this is the part that every Christian has to take very seriously.
The Source of Our Light
Every light derives its source from somewhere. This source could be a hydro dam, wind or electrical or thermal generator or the sun. What is the source of the light that Christ declared us to be?
From Scripture, we know that the source of a Christian’s light is Christ Himself. Witnesses testified of this, and He said so Himself. Here are the accounts:
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through Him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” – John 1:6-10 (NIV)
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (NIV)
“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” – John 9:5 (NIV)
“I have come into the world as a Light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46 (NIV)
History bears record that Jesus, the Sun of righteousness – Malachi 4:2 is a reliable Source of light. His power is not affected by the weather or hindered by a lack of electricity supply. He powers our light unfailingly and unendingly. Getting connected to Him is far more reliable and renewing than all that the inverters, batteries, circuits, and other power sources of the world combined together can provide. Hence, if we want to shine brightly, Christ is the Source that we can safely trust to make it so.
The Nature of our Light
It is Public. Jesus, having declared us as “the light of the world” went further to
ask: ‘let Your light shine before men.’ Earlier, He had made a similar declaration
when He said “you are the salt of the earth”. Unlike salt however, which mixes in
with food and becomes invisible, the call to “let your light shine before men” is a
more public expectation. It is almost as though Christ was saying: ‘don’t become
hidden, make sure you can be seen’. Let it be clear to men that you are light that
dispels darkness and bear no mark of the darkness of evil habits or tendencies. Christ
wants that marked difference to be evident.
It is for Specific Purposes. The light that we are to be to the world is not a dim light.
It is to shine so brightly that men “may see”. No matter how brightly we shine
however, our being light is ultimately for the glory of God and not for personal
glorification. The world is in darkness and we might light up a whole house or nation,
but we are not thereby to glory in ourselves. We have been made light for specific
purposes—for our own spiritual growth, and ultimately for the glory of God. These
two purposes are variously described by different people in the Bible. Jesus said: “..
let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your
Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
Paul & Barnabas: “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’“ – Acts 13:47 (NIV) It is possible only by God. Our human nature and dark antecedents indicate that if left on our own, we will either be redundant as light, or will self-destruct if put to use as light. Connection with God however as the Source of our light will help us achieve the purpose for which we have been made light. We will shine brightly to the extent that we are linked to the one true Source of bright light.
The Bible teaches us how to become effective lights. Here are some of the ways:
- So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” – John 12: 35, 36
- “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. – Ephesians 5:8-11
- “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labour in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16
There is a lot more that can be said about being the light of the world, but this is a subject that ought to be the lifelong meditation of every Christian. Jesus stated it very simply and succinctly—we are the light. We are to let our light shine, the way light should. It is on the world’s grand stand that we shall shine brightly, visible in full glare. Our comportment, conversation, integrity, and example of our profession will all come under scrutiny. The nature of our light will be tested.
Christ said that our light must so shine that it is possible that men may see our good works, and realize the hope that is possible for fallen man whose sins have been washed away at Calvary. They will through the evidence of our own transformed lives, radiated by the light that we are, come to glorify our Father in heaven, the Saviour of the world. Such is the nature of that which we have been declared to be: “you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”. Such is the basis of the apostle Paul’s caution to us that: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” – 1Thessalonians 5:5, 6
To Ponder: It was the great American evangelist, D.L. Moody, who said: “We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.” What an astute observation! Why not connect to the greatest power Source today that your light might shine do so brightly?
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“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” – Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)
The foundational principle guides and directs our relationship with God and our participation in the salvation provided through Jesus Christ. The person who continues to rely on God take Him at His Word and follow him faithfully through all circumstances will receive what God promise and will be saved eternally. Such people are not afraid to approach God with sincere hearts. The person who shrinks back is one who stops relying on God and abandons his or her faith by deliberately and continually sinning against God.
The problem is that most of us don’t really trust God to do what He will do in the Bible. The Bible says that “a righteous person will live by faith” – Hebrews 10:38 and that “it is impossible to please God without faith” – Hebrews 11:6. The object of our faith, then, is God Himself. Once we understand who God is -that He is not only Holy and Righteous, but He is Loving and Forgiving, All-Wise and full of Mercy – we should have no problem trusting Him.
God, the Bible says, loves us unconditionally and eternally. In other, words, no matter what you do behind God’s back – or to His face – He loves you. Once we understand that, we can ask His forgiveness and then trust Him with our lives totally and completely –Isaiah 43:25 (NIV) “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”.
Many people are afraid of God. They see Him as some kind of “super fuzz,” a big lefty policeman sitting behind a cloud with a spiritual AK 47 waiting to catch them disobeying the law so He can punish them. As a result, they are unwilling to totally surrender their life to Him for fear that He will put them in handcuffs and chains and put them to work as prisoners doing hard labour. To them it is better to stay as far away from God as possible.
Maybe you have felt this way about God. You felt if you gave your life to Jesus Christ that God would march you off to some concentration camp and beat the life out of you. Nothing is further from the truth. Instead of putting us in prison, faith in Christ sets us free. – John 8:32 (NIV) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I like the illustration used by Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is called the Great Commission Movement in Ghana. Dr. Bill Bright says: “My wife and I have two grown sons. Suppose that when they were little boys, they had come to greet me when I returned from a trip and said, ‘We love you. We missed you. We are so excited about your being home. We have been talking together and we have decided that we will do anything you want us to do. From now on, you issue the command and we will obey without any questions. We just want to please you.
“What do you think,” Dr. Bill Bright asks, “what would have been my attitude in response to their expression of love for me? If I had responded the way many people think God will respond if they said to Him, ‘Lord, I’ll do anything you want me to do and I’ll go anywhere you want me to go, ‘I would have taken them by the shoulders, look at them with an evil eye and said, ‘I have just been waiting for you to say that. Now I’m going to make you regret your decision to trust as long as you live. I am going to take all the fun out of your lives. I will make you miserable as long you live.
“No, I wouldn’t have said that. I would have put my arms around them and given them a big hug and said, ‘Zac, Brad, I love you, too, and want to justify your faith in me. I want to be a better father to you. I want to do everything can to help you find full meaningful lives.
Do you think God would do anything less for you? Remember:
- He loves you with an everlasting love – 31:3 (NIV) “The Lordappeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.
- He sent His only Son to die for you and pay the penalty of your sin – 2 Cor. 5:21 (NIV) “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.
- He wants to bless you – 28:1-14 (NIV) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully followall his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth ……………………….. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them”.
- He wants to give you power for living – Col. 1:11 (NIV) “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”,
But He cannot bless you unless you trust and obey Him—unless you are willing to live by faith. As you exercise faith in an unlimited God and draw upon His unlimited resources, you will begin to experience the abundant life, which Jesus came to give! John 10:10 (NIV) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
Prayer: Dear God, I’ve been living my life my own way. Now I want to live it Your way. I need You and I am now willing for You to take control of my life. I receive Your Son Jesus Christ, as my personal Saviour and Lord. I believe He died for my sins and has risen from the dead. I surrender to Him as Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, and occupy the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
God is a prayer answering God so if you sincerely pray Jesus will come and live in you by His Spirit.
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Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16