TEXT: Matthew 5:14-16
Turn your attention to Matthew 5:14-16 where we read, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) 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. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus has told his disciples “You and you alone are the light of the world.” But as the truth is that the influence of the church is not being felt in our society the way that it should be. A lot of people claims to be born again, yet based on the impact we are having, this cannot be true.
Perhaps part of the problem is that we have been lead to believe that our religious faith is a purely personal thing; that is that we should keep it to ourselves. While I agree that our faith is personal in that it requires a personal decision on our part, as to whether or not we are going to believe in Jesus, Jesus taught that we are not to keep it to ourselves. The words “let your light so shine” (v.16) are the translation of a single Greek verb (lampsato) which is an imperative, meaning that it is a command. I want to note four things about being “Called to be the Light of the World.”
1. A CALL TO ANSWER
As we consider “the light” we need to note that we have a four-fold call or responsibility to the light.
First, there is the call to come to the light. Jesus was and is the source of light. John 3:19-20 says, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Secondly, we are called to receive the light. It is not enough to merely be exposed to the light, we have a choice to respond to the light. We can either come to the light or reject the light. In John 1:12 we read “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Third, once we have received the light then we are called to walk in the light. Paul reminds believers in Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” We were once darkness, but now we are light in the world. How are we to live then? We are to live as children of the light. John speaks to the same problem when he says in 1 John 1:5-7, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Fourth, we are called to reflect the light. That of course is the central message of Matthew 14-16.
In John 9:5 Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” But when Jesus returned to Heaven he left Christians with the responsibility to be the light.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2: 14-16, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, (15) that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (16) holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (NKJV)
In the same way that the moon merely reflects the light of the sun, Christians are to reflect the light of the S.O.N. Those who follow Jesus actually become reflectors of the light. Just as the sun in the source of light in our universe and the moon reflects the light of the sun; Jesus is the source of light in the world and we his followers are to reflect that light.
Let me give you a story of something for us to aspire to.
President Woodrow Wilson told a story of an encounter which reflected the light of a changed life. He said, “I was in a very common place, I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least moralizing, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. D.L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They didn’t know his name but they knew some-thing had elevated their thoughts, and I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.” [J. David Hoke. Salt and Light. Matt 5:13-16. http://www.sermoncentral.com]
Our lives should be lives that reflect something different than what the world has, because quite simply we have something that the world does not have – JESUS.
The Call can be summarized this way – “If you’re in the darkness come to the light. If you are saved make a difference in the darkness.”
2. A TESTIMONY TO BE SHARED. (vv. 14b-15)
“… A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) 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.”
Many of the cities of Judea were placed on the summits or sides of mountains, and could be seen from afar. Perhaps Jesus pointed to such a city, and told his disciples that they were like it. Their actions could not be hid. The eyes of the world were upon them. They must be seen; and as this was the case, they ought to be holy, harmless, and undefiled. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Jesus proceeded here to show them that the very reason why they were enlightened was that others might also see the light, and be benefited by it. When people light a candle, they do not conceal the light, but place it where it may be of use.
Jesus tells us what we are …salt and light. Whereas salt is a hidden but powerful influence, LIGHT is a VISIBLE and REVEALING influence. We are called to make a visible impact on the world around us. We cannot lose what we are but we can hide what we are, we can waste what we are.
Why then were Christian placed in the world? If you will note (5:13), the WORLD BENEFIT FROM US IF WE LIVE AS SALT AND LIGHT. If the people live immorally and we live immorally what is the difference? If they we dishonest and we are dishonest, what is the difference? When they do sloppy work and we do a sloppy job, what is the difference? When they mumble and complain about everything and we mumble and complain about everything, what it the difference? If they are looking out only for themselves and we are looking out only for ourselves, what is the difference?
We cannot benefit the world if we are like the world. We cannot benefit the world unless we show them that there is a better way. Our mission is to be the light of the world and it is our choice whether we shine or hide. Matthew 5:15
So it is with our profession of Christ, with our Christian walk. It is given that we may benefit others. It is not to be concealed, but suffered to show itself, and to shed light on a surrounding wicked world. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
There is a Testimony To be Shared and…
3. A CHOICE TO BE MADE. (v. 16a)
“Let your light so shine before men…” Evidently there is some choice involved because it says, “let” your light shine. Verse fifteen described a situation that we would never do in the physical world, light a lamp and place it under a pot, yet we do spiritually. The believer often allows his spiritual light to be hidden.
What do we allow to hide our light?
- For some Christian’s there light is hidden under the basket of FEAR. We may be like Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple. We are Christian’s but no one around us knows it.
- For some Christian’s there light is hidden under the basket of APATHY.
- For some Christian’s there light is hidden under the basket of SILENCE.
- For some Christian’s there light is hidden under the basket of INCONSISTENCY.
Most of us have some exposure to the glow in the dark objects. One man had such an object, so he took it into a dark area to try it out, but it did not glow. So took it back into the light and read the imprint on the side, “If you want me to shine in the night, keep me in the light.”
Friends if you want your life to shine for the Lord in the darkness we have keep ourselves in the light. Those that know the Lord are to shine in the midst of the darkness.
Let me give you two things to think over in connection with the fact that our lives are on display.
First, over the years in the ministry I have heard people make the statement, “I’m in an work place where there are no other Christian’s, and it is rough. Things are disgusting. Pray that I will be able to get another job.” This is what I want you to consider! Have you ever considered that God may have put you in that position? The greater the darkness the more difference even the weakest light will make.
Secondly, let me give you something else to think about in connection with the fact that our lives are on display; “Have you ever considered that people who allow others to think that they are worse they are, are just as much a hypocrite as those who represent themselves as better than they are?” We recognize the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who performed their religious acts in an attempt to make others think that they really better than they were. Yet Peter was just as guilty when in a moment of weakness denied that he was a disciple of the Lord. He was also being a hypocrite.
We cannot live light-filled lives in our society without standing out, without having people notice us. They may not like us, and they may reject us; but they will know that we are there. If your faith does not make a difference in the way that you live your life you either need to get saved or you need to repent and allow the light of Jesus to shine through.
This particular verse is telling us let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your faithful instructions, be everywhere seen and known. Always, in all societies, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, let it be seen that you are real Christians. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Not Only Is There A Choice to be made but…
4. A PURPOSE TO BE CONSIDERED.
(v. 16b) “… that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” The proper motive to influence us is not simply that we may be seen (compare Matt 6:1), but it should be that our heavenly Father may be glorified. Jesus did not say live our lives in such a fashion that people will see our good deeds and say what marvelous, outstanding people we are. A lamp does not call attention to itself. The Pharisees acted to be seen of men, true Christians act to glorify God, and care little what people may think of them, except as by their conduct others may he brought to honor God, yet they should so live that people may see from their conduct what is the proper nature of Christian profession.
As they see it in our lives, they will [Glorify your Father] Praise, or honor God, or be led to worship him. Seeing in your lives the excellency of religion, and the power and purity of the gospel, they may be won to be Christians also, and give praise and glory to God for his mercy to a lost world. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
We are not called to be magnificent chandeliers for the world to admire. We are called to be the little single bulb nightlight in the hallway to keep people from breaking their necks when they get up in the middle of the night! He called us to make a difference in the darkness!!!
All Christians are lights of the world, because they, by their instructions and example, show what God requires, what is the condition of man, what is the way of duty, peace, and happiness the way that leads to heaven. (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
On June 5, 1910 the American Short-story writer O. Henry spoke his last words he said, “Turn up the lights, I don’t want to go home in the dark…” As lights in the world, our mission is to make sure no one ever does!
- Dr. John Hamby
- Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.
- J. David Hoke. Salt and Light. Matt 5:13-16.