“God needs our light where the world is the darkest. The blacker the night, the greater the need for a light bulb. If the bulb does not shine, it’s not because of the darkness. Darkness cannot put out a light. If the darkness increases until it is black as a cave, it is still not dark enough to extinguish a light. No one has yet smothered a light by increasing the darkness. Darkness gets darker because the light fails. When we fail to reflect Christ’s light, we let the darkness win.”
– Haddon Robinson
If darkness prevails in our world, during our generation, then some of the blame lies with us, if our lights did not shine. Perhaps we could reason that our lights were lit, therefore we did indeed shine. But consider that there is a difference between being lit and shining. Auto headlamps smeared with mud can be lit, but do not shine. A candle flame concealed inside a container is lit, but the effect of its illuminative power is muted. The glass on the old coal oil lamp had to be kept clean for its flame to shine; if the glass was covered with soot, the effect of the flame was diminished.
The Lord did not just ask us to be merely lit. … He said that we were to shine! “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). He has the expectation that Hid people will “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15).
In the context of this latter reference, it is obvious that “complaining and arguing” diminish the effect of our ability to reflect His light. Also, a failure to “hold out the word of life” is another way in which our being lit (knowing the word ourselves) did not issue in an effective diffusion of His light. And the context in Matthew 5 leaves us plenty of scope to understand that our own behavior could be like a “bowl or basket” concealing the light that should be radiating forth in our world; whatever that behavior be, i.e., failure to learn, apathy, failure to keep on laboring at the task we were able to do, surrendering to the negative criticism of others (It is by the Lord’s directives we serve, not the opinions of others.), failure to change in accord with the Spirit’s fruit, excessive humility, which is nothing more than another form of idolatry.
(When you say that you cannot do it, and the Lord has asked you to do it, and you do not even attempt to gain whatever is necessary to equip you for the task, or you are hindered by a fear of what others might say, or you allow a spirit of timidity to prevail, you are putting yourself in the place of God. – That is idolatry!) (You may have convinced yourself that you are subject to God; but until you are willing to put aside whatever keeps you from doing all that He has set before you to do, He has not been granted dominion in your life.)
His light can shine brightly only in the lives of those who have surrendered. So, unless you are SHINING, stop complaining about the state of the world. And unless you are helping the church to SHINE, you can continue to expect the world to be unaffected, and simply to increase in its darkness. And in being able to recognize and acknowledge the terrible state of affairs which prevails in the world, you recognize and acknowledge the need for the people who claim to belong to the Lord to SHINE, therefore you are without excuse, for you are recognizing and acknowledging the need for you to SHINE. A better world does start with you.
Supposedly, Christians are transformed people: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” The proof of transformation (change) is in the living: “Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). But if all we do is reflect the philosophies, opinions, and negativism of the world, we contribute to the darkness, not diminish it. It is time for Christians to be aflame with the fervor of the Lord for righteousness, upholding, in behavior and speech, all His goodness for the world to see.
• Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher
“Let your light shine before others.”
– Matthew 5:16