Matthew 5:14–16 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 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.
Jesus gives the instructions recorded in the Sermon on the Mount as descriptions of what characterizes His followers. These are the “…good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10b). His instructions are not optional extras that high achievers may put on display, while the bulk of believers remains muddled in mediocrity. Jesus clearly explains what characterizes His people because they are blessed by gospel grace.
Being the light of the world is not something we turn off and on. Christians “are” the light of the world and are not to be hidden. Just as the purpose of lighting a lamp is to illuminate a room, one of the functions of Christians is to illuminate the world by putting the good works the Lord empowers in us on display. The instruction of Jesus to “let your light shine before others” assumes the light of Christ is shining through us. Consequently, we are to go into the world of darkened hearts and sinners who live without the Lord’s light, life, and direction. Who we are in Christ shines in the presence of others so that the light of Christ in and through us makes the glory of our Father in heaven perceptible to them.
Are you struck, and sometimes shocked, by the evil and darkness that shrouds the people around you? Their hope for fulfillment is not better government programs, better education, more economic opportunities, or justifying how they gratify their nerve endings. The light of joyful satisfaction will only dawn on them by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians delighted with the satisfying light of Christ are to share the light with them.
You don’t have the power to turn this light on and off! The Lord of Glory turned His light on in your heart by the power of His gospel grace, and He sustains it by giving you the ability to love the Lord and obey His truth. The light of the good works of Jesus in and through you are not only for your family, church, and close friends. When you are in the company of unbelievers, let the light of Christ-empowered truth, love, and righteousness shining in you be brought into the purview of those living in darkness. How? By showing that you joyfully affirm the authority of Jesus in all that you do. Unbelievers do not need to be shielded from the light; they need it! “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”