"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5v14-16
I am sure that I may have memorised Bible verses when I was a child on occasional visits to Sunday School or Vacation Bible School (Holiday Bible Clubs, or what we call ‘Kids’ Klub Kamp’ here in Naas). The first verse I remember memorising though would have been before I was saved in about 1969. I was in an organisation called the Order of DeMolay. It is kind of like a junior masonic lodge. It is a youth organisation now called ‘DeMolay International’ whose purpose was to build character and do community service. Though not Christian and not really Bible based, as part of one of the rituals we had to memorise Matthew 5v16 – ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’
Though misapplied there to anyone try to please God by doing good works, the teaching did have an impact on my life. That, along with my dad’s instruction early on, taught me the importance of doing good for others.
That was a good lesson. I learned how to try and be good to people. I learned that good works benefited everyone practically, but it was a few more years before I realised that good works alone did nothing for my eternity.
Jesus came as the Light of the World. His light brings eternal life. It is not until we receive His gift of light that His light can shine through us. He is the fuel that keeps the light burning. He shines His light and His light is seen in our good works. Our good works don’t produce the light.
So what do we do with His light? Jesus gives two illustrations. A bright and shining city which is built on a hill is not hidden; it is there for everyone to see. When we buy a lamp and bring it home we don’t hide it under a bucket. Light is to be seen and enlighten the room where it is. ‘Brighten the corner where you are!’ is pretty good advice. If the light is there it will shine and it will shine in doing good works. Works is not the source of the light, but the result of it.
We teach kids the song ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Let it shine till Jesus comes…’ That is more than just a kid’s song. This verse is more than just a verse in a part of a ritual. It is life, and it is vital that we shine our lights in the midst of this ‘crooked and perverse generation.’
The darker our world and the fewer the lights where we are the more important it is that we shine.