Jessie learned a lesson about candles. There was a dear family that visited our church for a season. They lived just off the winding road that led to the church. One day, little Jessie was playing with a candle. When his mom told him that they were going to get out a bit, being the obedient boy he was, he put the candle away. He slid the candle underneath his bed. That might not have been a problem, except that the candle was still lit. It wasn’t long before the firemen arrived and got the blaze under control; there was significant damage. There’s no doubt that young Jessie learned an important lesson that day: candles are not meant to be hidden underneath the bed.
There was a day when Jesus’ disciples learned a similar lesson. Jesus went up on a hilltop to get away from the crowds. As his disciples gathered there with him, He began to teach them that, among other things, they were ‘candles’ who weren’t meant to be hidden.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. 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 5:14-16).
Picture the disciples there that day. Their beloved teacher declares to them, “You are the light of the world.” What’s their reaction? Do they feel the weight of that statement? Jesus goes on to warn them that they shouldn’t shine underneath a basket; nothing good comes from that. No, they are to shine before others so that they would see their good works and glorify the Father.
Now, could I ask you to take a seat there on the hillside? Open your Bible to this passage in Matthew 5, and listen as Jesus talks to you, not to your friends or folks at church, but to you. It’s just Jesus and you. He declares that you are the light of the world. Let that sink in.
If you’re a Christian, there’s no way to explain away that declaration. “Oh, this is just for preachers and missionaries. Sure, Pastor Walt is the light of the world. He shines there from the pulpit every Sunday.” That may be true, but what Jesus said applies to every Christian—the youngest, the oldest, the least educated, the university professor, the most outgoing, and the shyest. Each follower of Christ is to be a light in the world.
Notice Jesus isn’t saying that you should be light. He tells you that you are light. If that’s true, and there’s no reason to think it’s not, then it’s not a question of if you are light, it’s a question of where your light is shining. If it’s hidden you can be assured that, like Jessie’s candle, it’s causing significant damage. There are people whom God wants to impact through your life every day. When that’s not happening, there’s damage done.
On the other hand, when you let your light shine before others, people’s lives are often influenced, sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways.
So, what will it be? Will you choose to let your light—God’s light—shine into the lives of others? Surely God will help you.