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. – Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus told His disciples that they were the light of the world. It was the followers of Jesus who would shine His light into a world of darkness. Then, He gave them two illustrations that drive the same point.
First, He said that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Imagine an ancient city located atop a hill at night, where candles are lit for the people to see. And imagine standing off a mile from the city in the dark of night. That city cannot be hidden.
Second, He said, 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. Where in the first picture, the city cannot help but be seen, in the second picture, the Savior was showing how ridiculous it would’ve be to try to hide the light.
And here was His conclusion: In the same way, let your light shine before others. Just as it would’ve been silly for someone to light a lamp and then put it under a basket, so it would’ve been silly, to the say the least, for one of His disciples to hide their light.
What is this light about which the Savior was speaking? Good works. They were to let their lights shine before others so that the others might see their good works and give glory to their Father who is in heaven. Letting their lights shine meant doing visible good works for the glory of God. Their works would lead others to praise their Father.
All we who believe in Him are likewise the light of the world, and we cannot nor should not be hidden. We are to let our lights shine before others so that others may see our good works and give glory to our God.
First, let’s consider this idea of good works. Many Christians who hold to the right doctrines of salvation by grace alone through faith alone may have an aversion to good works, but this should not be the case. Good works are a part of being a Christian. Where it differs in Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions is that Christians aren’t doing good works for salvation. No, they are doing good works as a result of salvation. They were saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and as a response to that, they do good works. And these good works are to be a witness to others and used in conjunction with our good news of salvation through Jesus.
Having said that, the church seems to be, to a certain degree, hidden today. The church is not widely known for its good works, and that’s a shame. The secular world is outdoing us in our good works, and this should not be so. How much of your church’s time, budget, and focus is on feeding the least, caring for widows and orphans, loving our neighbors? How much of your own time, budget, and focus is on these things? This writer knows that his own answer is: not enough.
So, may we commit on this day not to be hidden, but to start letting our lights shine, to the glory of God.