Take a look at Matthew 5:14-16, and let’s think for a moment about letting our light shine.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Sometimes a passage in the Bible becomes so familiar that we don’t pay enough attention to the details. How many times have we heard the phrase, “We should be a light to those around us.” Or “Let your light shine.” What does Jesus mean by “let your light so shine” in this context?
Christ says that we ourselves, as His followers, are the light of the world. He doesn’t say here that our words or our actions in themselves are the light of the world. But He seems to be stressing the importance of who we are as individuals, and as a Church. Of course, who we are will affect what we say and what we do, but sometimes we can say all the right things, and do all the right things, and our light continues to be overshadowed, covered up, or fogged up by the mist of the human Self. Jesus illustrates this by a bushel covering a candle.
Another clue that “light” in this context is not what we do or say is found in verse 16. “Let your light so shine before men”, it says, “that they may see your good works”. You see, we already are doing good works, but something is not letting the world see them in the proper light. We do kind deeds, we help our neighbour, we participate in church, we give to the poor, we spread the Gospel, but there is still something that is coming in between us and the world we are trying to reach.
As followers of Christ, it is imperative that we be genuine disciples. When our selfish motives and our fleshly passions rule our good works, the light of our testimony is obscured by our dishonesty and our hypocrisy. We must be genuine. We must not be only Sunday Christians, but Christians all week. We must not only be Christians on the outside, but also on the inside. In fact, we must experience an inner transformation before we can be true disciples of Christ.
Finally, verse 16 instructs us to “let our light so shine before men” that others may glorify our Father which is in Heaven. People can’t see God, but they can see us.
In what state is the lamp of your life? Are we genuine, or are we hypocritical? Can the world see the true meaning behind our good actions, or do they see Self stamped all over them? Can they glorify our Father?