"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)
Here we find the very first command of the Sermon on the Mount, and it is this; “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.” Notice that this comes immediately after the declaration in the same verse that “YOU ARE the light of the world.” Remember as with the last passage about salt, as well as the entire list of beatitudes this is a declaration not a command. The command is to let that light shine, the light itself is implied.
Notice that this command has a condition on it, and it is a very important condition... let your light shine in such a way... There is a way you must shine your light, and this is critical to understand, because good works, good theology, truthful evangelism, biblical preaching, acts of service... and any other way your light may shine can still be done in the flesh and actually be
considered sin. If the shining of your light is not done in such a way that others ‘may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven’ then it is not being shown in the way this commandment mandates. I know this is elementary, but be very careful. Jesus commands us later to do things in secret, in order that the left hand doesn’t what the right hand is doing! We are reminded often that the hidden things bring God much pleasure, so this condition on letting your light shine is very important to be met. What is the purpose of ‘letting your light shine’ the answer is simple, to glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Now what can we do with this? The implications of the verse certainly are to be seen, I mean, people do not light a lamp and then put it under a basket do they? Moreover if God has lit a fire in you and indeed you are the light of the world it would be asinine to consider letting that fire burn privately. I would say go to the market place and shine, go to your work place and shine, go to your home and shine, go to your church and shine, go to the internet and shine, go to the slums and shine, go and shine so that they may see your good works... and glorify your father.
There is no place in Christianity for ornate lampshades, made of stained glass, or embroidered cloth. There is no place for colored filters, prisms, and suncatchers in Christianity. Of course I speak metaphorically, but realize that these things, lamp shades, and suncatchers and such, rob
some of the light in order to show themselves beautiful, but it is the bare ugly light bulb with no cover at all that gives the greatest illumination upon its subjects. So too must you be a bare light bulb that shines forth good works that illuminate the glory of God while robbing Him of none of the glory He must receive.
Now as a word encouragement, often times when you display your light for His glory people will try to glorify you... run from those people, or at the very least explain to them that it causes you discomfort to receive honor for what Christ is doing in you. At the same time when someone glorifies God because of His light that has shown from you, and they desire only to thank you for shining, simply be appreciative of their compliments and do not write them off with some trite cliché about it all being for the glory of God. Odds are the person knows that, but simply wants to thank you for illuminating Christ, and it is appropriate for us to thank those who glorify God, not in order to give them glory, but in order to edify and encourage them to continue.
I will leave it there for now.