YOU ARE LIGHT – BE LIGHT
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16).
Salt and light – both essential for life. Just as corrupted salt loses its value and is good for nothing but to be discarded, so is a light that is hidden away of no use to the members of the household. Why would one bother to light a lamp if it is not used to light a room? The purpose of a lamp is to enable those in the house to see.
But, at the same time, didn’t Jesus tell His disciples not to do their good deeds in front of people in order to gain their admiration? Which one did He mean? Did He contradict Himself? Not at all! We must examine His use of “light” in the context of Old Testament usage.
“Light” was the first word spoken, and the first thing God established on the shapeless and empty earth in the process of creation.
And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light (Gen 1:3).
Strangely enough, though, He only created the heavenly bodies on day four (Gen.1 14-15). What provided the light that God spoke on day one?
John 1:1-5 gives us a commentary on Genesis 1. John presents Jesus as both the Word and the Light. Before God created physical light, Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, provided light on the earth.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world (John 1:9).
The Old Testament often used light as a metaphor for the Word of God. For example:
Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psa. 119:105).
To be light, therefore, in the light of Old Testament usage, is to be a person whose lives his life according to the instructions of God’s Word. When Jesus claimed to be the light of the world, He was, in effect, confirming His purpose to “fulfil the Law” (Matt. 5:17). By fulfilling He meant that He had come to do what the Law both said and intended, not according to what the religious leaders considered “fulfilling” but according to God’s intention from the beginning.
Being light is much more than doing a few “good works”. Being the light is living according to the instructions God gave His people for living the best life which included not only obeying the Law but also being motivated by the right attitude to God’s instructions. Jesus showed, by His life, that obedience was much more than just keeping the letter of the Law. Without a heart of love for God and for one’s neighbour, obedience is nothing more than outwards acts which have no meaning to God without the right heart.
Deeds without a heart are like an unlit lamp. However, a life lived to reflect the true nature of Jesus, through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is like a lamp that shines in the darkness. Unlike the Pharisees, who paraded their good works to win the approval of simply out of love for Him, unconsciously reflects the light of God’s Word everywhere, like a lamp on a lampstand.
Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the difference between a person who did the right thing on the outside but whose heart was still greedy and selfish, and the one whose life reflected his love for Jesus by his heart attitude as well as his deeds. This inner “light” is not something a person can create by outward behaviour. It is the light of God’s life within that comes from Jesus’ indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the Word made flesh. Only as He lives His life through the believer, can He become the Word made flesh within. Those who try to copy His life without His life within are no better than the Pharisees who tried to live “righteous” lives by doing the right thing with hearts that remained unchanged. Jesus called them “whited sepulchres”, painted on the outside but full of dead bones.
Only the Spirit of God can bring life to our dead spirits. It is a work of God which He does in the heart of a person who “sees the light” and responds in faith to Jesus’ words.
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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