In Matthew 5:14-16, it says, “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 its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (NIV).
What does it mean to be “the light” and “let your light shine before others”? How does this look and feel?
A few years ago, I heard a pastor share a story from his own life. His son was a responsible, caring, and spirit-filled young man. In high school, he worked hard to maintain his grades and stayed out of trouble. His son was also artistic, taking every art class available and participating in any art-related activities inside and outside of school.
When he was an upperclassman, the pastor’s son made an unlikely new friend. He befriended and started hanging out with a young man who was his exact opposite. This friend struggled in school, had a bad reputation, and had even had some brushes with the law.
As their friendship progressed and deepened over time, the pastor and his wife became concerned. Their son was spending most of his time with this troubled young man. And, as any parent would do, they worried about this new friend’s influence over their son’s life. They worried that he would change in ways that could negatively affect his life. His parents were at the point they were about to have a discussion with their son concerning this friend.
But before they could have this conversation, something unexpected happened. While they were at their son’s high school, attending an art program, a couple approached them and introduced themselves. They were the parents of the troubled young man.
His parents proceeded to thank the pastor and his wife. They shared about how the pastor’s son had struck up a conversation with their son and discovered they had a shared interest in art. The pastor’s son had invited him to join art activities at school. But more than that, through his positive influence and example, their son was changing for the better. Their son was doing better in school and had let go of bad friendships. Pretty much every area of this young man’s life had been affected for the better as a result of his friendship with the pastor’s son.
The pastor and his wife were both grateful and humbled by this encounter. They hadn’t considered the possibility that the Lord could use their son to help change his friend. And seeing the impact their son had on the life of his friend changed and opened their hearts. So often, well-meaning Christians are afraid to help those who truly need it for fear of becoming corrupted by the world.
There can also be an apprehension for those who want to help but aren’t sure how. How does that help look? What does the Lord want them to do? The answer is simple: just be you.
The pastor’s son wasn’t out searching for someone to help but, when the opportunity presented itself, he recognized it. And, how did this young man help his friend? By simply being himself. He showed his friend who he truly was. He shared the gifts God placed inside him. He allowed the beauty of how Christ uniquely created him to “shine” through.
We change the world and those around us simply by being who God created us to be. This is how we let our “light shine before others.” It isn’t something we have to force. It is a natural aspect of who we are in Christ. Our inner light emanates on its own when we are real and authentic with others.
When we simply go about the business of leading our daily lives, opportunities to help others will present themselves on their own. Those the Lord would have us help will naturally be drawn to us by the “light” they sense in us. In return, the Lord will reveal to our hearts anyone He would like us to help. It is always organically orchestrated by the Lord.
Be open to whatever means the Lord may use you and whatever form your help takes shape. The Lord may call you speak to someone. He may ask you to mow someone’s lawn. Or, He may ask you to financially help someone who is struggling. It really doesn’t matter what He asks you to do. He knows that person’s need and the best way to meet that need. We need only be available and open to the Lord’s prompting. And above all else, “let your light shine for all the world to see” by being brave enough to let the world see the real you!