You are the light of the world. Instead of being a part of the darkness of the world, you are its light.
The world is in gross darkness. This darkness is characteristic of everything that is opposed to the will of God. The devil is the prince of this darkness. Therefore this darkness signifies a hatred of God and a love of all that is sinful. It speaks of unrighteousness, unholiness and every pollution imaginable.
But you, in contrast to the world and its utter darkness, are the light. You are the light of the world.
The text pictures a scene for us. It is a dark night. Very dark. It is more than just the darkness of a moonless night. This darkness is oppressive; it is almost as if you can feel the darkness.
But off in the distance a light shines. This light is not situated low on the horizon, but is set up rather high. A closer examination shows that this is not a single light, but that it really is many lights shining. That these many individual lights are so close to each other, gives the appearance as if it is but one light.
A still closer examination of these lights show that these many lights come from the windows of many different homes which together comprise a city.
The light which emits from these many windows is the only light there is.
All else is darkness, pitch black darkness. And the light which streams from those windows never ceases, for never is the light turned off and never is the window shade drawn.
You, by the grace of God, are that city on a hill in a dark night pouring out her light. What a glorious privilege. From this great distinction comes a high and very serious calling.
As the light of the world, your calling is to let your light shine.
Light shines. When light shines it reveals. Thus it enables one to see. Light reveals things and exposes them that they may be seen by men.
If things are seen by men, then they are able to know those things. Man can then come to an understanding of that thing.
Then when men see and learn and come to understand, they are able intelligently to speak together about the things which they could see.
Therefore, without light this world would be dark, silent, and dead. There would be no sight, no knowledge, no understanding, and no speech.
This is even more true spiritually than physically.
God is THE light. He shines into the world. Because He shines we can see, know and understand what is good. Thus He leads us into truth. We must walk in His light if we are to have the light of life.
Christ is the light of life by which the light of God shines forth upon the earth.
Therefore we are the light of the world the light we can shine.
We are like a city situated on a hill which cannot be hid. The true Christian, because he is a SHINING light, cannot be hid or escape notice. Thus it is true that the Church is conspicuous. But Christ is not talking of the conspicuousness. Rather Christ is saying that the Church must emanate its light. He is speaking of the duty of young people to make themselves conspicuous by letting their light shine.
How is this done?
Some say Christ wants us to make ourselves as conspicuous as possible so that we can improve the state of this world. Therefore, it is said, it is the calling of young people to strive for a leadership role in the activities in which the world engages: business, politics, education, science, sociology, and so forth. Then all aspects of life could be greatly improved because of the leadership a Christian would give to these fields.
This idea is wrong.
First of all, this light is hated by the world and no matter the leadership abilities of the individual Christian involved, he would soon be despised and rejected as a leader. To keep his place of leadership the Christian would be sore tempted to put a bushel over his light.
Secondly, we are not saying a Christian young person cannot strive to rise in these fields. Rather we are saying that Christ is not admonishing His people to become prominent in worldly circles (1 Thess. 4: 14,15 and II Thess. 3: 6ff.)
And thirdly, Scripture teaches us that not many wise, not many noble, and not many mighty are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (I Cor. 1).
How then does the Christian young person shine?
When a young person realizes all that the grace of God has done in him and for him, he cannot help but shine. He cannot conceal the light. He radiates the light kindled within him by the Spirit of Christ. He does so in whatever station or place of life he may be placed. He uses every organ of self-expression (eye, hand, foot, ear, tongue, etc.) in the service of this light.
We shine when we walk holily and forsake sin. We cause ourselves to love the things above, not the things of the earth. We must kill that part of us which is of the earth earthy: anger, wrath, blasphemy, filthy communications. We must lie not one to another, seeing that we have put off the old man with his deeds. Let us put on therefore bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, long- suffering. forbearing one another and forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave us.
But why is this admonition to shine necessary? Does not a light just naturally shine? If a young person has the light of God in Christ within him, is it not certain that he will shine?
A candle is lit and placed somewhere and it shines. It cannot help but shine. But a child of God is not exactly like a candle. He can shine, but it is also true that he can cover his light and hide.
Just as easily as he can light a candle and cover it with a bushel basket so that no or very little light comes out, so he can cover up his light. Anyone can turn on the light of a lamp and then cover the light bulb with black paper so no light comes out. Or one can have a light on in a room, but pull the shades and tape the cracks so that no light escapes the room. So a Christian can cover the light of Christ within him.
It is easy for the light which God has placed in us to shine outside of us. All we have to do is be in perfect agreement with the will of God.
It is easy if we are perfect.
But we are sinners in a sinful world. Therefore it is hard to let God’s light in us shine forth.
This admonition to shine is necessary because we are tempted to hide our light.
We are inclined to put our light under a bushel and to hide it from men. And we often do. Our sinful nature is always with us and according to the motions of sin in that old nature, we do not love the light. Rather we hate it and are ashamed of it, so we want to and often do hide it.
Also, our fear makes us pull the shades and hide the light. We must shine in a world which despises and hates the light. Remember that when light shines it reveals. When the light of Christ in us shines in the midst of this wicked world it reveals the wickedness thereof. It condemns the works of darkness. It tells anyone when they are doing something wrong. Then they who are children of the darkness hate us, mock us, deride us and kill us. It may cost us our job or our life. Therefore we are afraid. So we pull the shades.
This admonition is necessary also because of our sinful desire to join the world. We want to be in the world and of it. We want their respect and honor. We want to enjoy the pleasures of the movie. We want to enjoy the luxuries of a union job. We want to enjoy the pleasures of sex. But to have this enjoyment with the world we have to pull the shades. We have to cover the light. If the enjoyment which we now have is ours because of our having hid our light, then we may be assured that such enjoyment will do us no good.
Therefore, let your light shine.
Light will shine and emit itself. It always does. The gleams of light always travel forth unless there is some interference. Light has to be placed under a bushel if it is to be concealed.
But is anything so foolish? Why would anyone light a candle if he is going to put it under a bushel? One only lights a candle so that it may give its light to all in the room.
The light of a believer will shine, if we let it. It can be covered by the vices of the old man of sin.
Therefore, let your light shine. Put off the old man with his works. Put on the new man. Walk in a godly conversation. Use every means within your power to let your light shine.