IN John 8:12 our Lord says, “I am the light of the world.” He was “the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). “I am come a light into the world,” He declared in John 12:46. In the New Jerusalem, “the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23).
In Matthew 5:14 Jesus says to His disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.” “He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” He tells us in John 8:12—and this light shines forth from our hearts, the Light of the Indwelling Christ, so that we shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15). The light is not generated within us by our own efforts; we are not the sources, but simply the instruments in and from which the Light shines. The Light is Christ living within because we have believed in Him and have been born again.
Jesus went on to say, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” We are higher than the world, and nothing can hide the influence of a life that is in the will of God. Trouble and temptation and persecution only fan the flame. The life that is hid with Christ in God cannot be hidden in its outward influence for God.
Our Lord then gives us further teaching about our light-bearing. He states the negative side first: “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” Indifference and worldliness, neglect of duty and any disobedience of the law of Christ—these are bushels that quench the Spirit and spoil our influence. Candles are meant for candlesticks. Our influence will take care of itself if we are in the candlestick of His will.
Then Jesus gives us positive instruction: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mind you, He does not say “Shine your light” but “Let it shine.” Some believers are much concerned about their influence. They strain and strive trying to make good impressions and labor that others may see how good they are. They are shining their light. But we need only to abide in Him, beware of all “bushels,” and the light will shine of its own accord.
We are to let our light shine before men. We are not to hide in a cave, but live His life right out in the world of things as they are. The real saint is no cloistered recluse, but one who can meet life’s wear and tear through Christ. We are to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works. Not just in order that they may see our good works and nothing more, to be sure, but they must see our good works if they are to be influenced. Men cannot see inside our hearts and tell what sort of faith we have; they can see only our works. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works (Eph. 2:10), and faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:20).
The purpose of it all is that they may glorify not us, but our Father in heaven! “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). That is the secret of unselfish goodness: living solely that God may be glorified. It is easy to take pride in our own influence for Christ—but then He decreases and we increase. We must ever remember to be only the friend of the Bridegroom.