Light of the World

Today’s parable is fairly short and sweet.  You can find it in Matthew 5:14-16, Mark 4:21,22, and Luke 8:16,17:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)

And the modern version:

No one turns on a light and then covers it with a blanket, they let it light the whole room; just as you cannot hide a city that is built on a hilltop, people can see it from miles away.

This parable is found in the middle of what many call the “Sermon on the Mount.”  Jesus is teaching the multitudes about godly living.  The light in this parable is indeed the Christian way of life.  The message of the parable is pretty easy to understand: the way we live is not to be so alike everyone else that we are indistinguishable from the rest of the darkness (the world).  We are to shine with righteous light that the difference is revealed in the unrighteous darkness of the rest of the world.

To me, the key to this parable is found in verse 16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16 NASB).  Our good works are to be so abundant that, like a bright light, you cannot help but notice the light (the Christian) and its Source (God).  If people are not glorifying or at least acknowledging God’s influence as a result of our lives, we are hiding our light and are not living a life worthy of our calling.

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Thessalonians 1:11,12 NASB).


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