Have you ever been in total darkness? If you are in a dark room or outside at night, there is usually some faint light from a source such as the stars. Perhaps you have been in a deep cave that no light enters. It can be rather scary to be without light because you need light to see what you are doing and to see where to go. The opposite of darkness is light. The sun is an extremely bright light. God dwells in unapproachable light. 1 Timothy 6:16 “Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
When Jesus was here on the earth, He spoke of Himself as the light of the world. John 9:4-5 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” In this sense, He was the spiritual light of the world rather than a physical light. John 8:12 “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” Jesus has returned to heaven; now you and I are to be lights of the world. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are not the same light as Jesus, but as He lives within us, we become lights of the world.
Having light gives you a couple of abilities. Light gives you the ability to understand what objects are like. You see their color, their shape, their texture and their size. Light also gives you the ability to see where you are going and how to accomplish a task. Jesus was the light of the world in both senses. He taught the truth. He said in John 18:37b “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Through Jesus as the light, you can see and understand what truth is. Through Jesus, you can also see where you are going and how to walk in this life. The psalmist wrote about God in Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
In the country of Israel today, there are cities such as Nazareth that are built upon a hill. At night, the lights of the city can be seen from a great distance. A lamp put on a lampstand gives light to all who are in the house. In both cases, the light is obvious and should not be hidden, just as you should not hide your light and your good works. At the same time, you are not to do your good deeds so that you will receive the praise from others. Matthew 6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Other people will naturally know what kind of person you are and see your good works. But if you motivation is to receive their honor and praise, you will receive no reward from God.
Jesus said that men would see your good works and give glory to God. Your good works are the light that others can see. Jesus went around doing good. Acts 10:38 “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Many people were attracted to Jesus because of the good that He did. When people came to Him, He took the opportunity to teach them. You and I should also be known for doing good. Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” There are many good works you can do. When Jesus described the judgement in Matthew 25:31-46, the good works He listed were giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, lodging to the stranger, clothes to the naked, and visiting the sick and those in prison. James, in James 1:27, described pure religion as visiting the orphans and widows in their trouble, and keeping yourself unspotted from the world. I believe that good works also include bearing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Good works are implied in Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, 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.” Be careful to maintain good works. Your good works cause you to be a light to the world. Others will see your good works and glorify God.
Why do you do your good works? It is not to receive the praise of others. Your good works should flow from your faith in God, your obedience to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and your love for your neighbor. As Jesus brought God’s word, you too become the message from God. You reflect the light of God. Others will see that you are different from the selfish people of the world, and they will give glory to God. Perhaps they will glorify God for the blessings you give them. Or perhaps they will glorify God by becoming a fellow believer. I encourage you to be the best light to the world that you can be for God’s glory.