Let Your Light Shine Before Others…

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“Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16). This is what it means to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ: we must be shining examples of Christ’s love in the small environments of our daily worlds. We must live the gospel for all to see.

We live in a “take care of number 1” world today. Maybe it has always been so, but it seems to have achieved unprecedented capital in our self-absorbed times. The common environment at every level seems to be driven by competition and comparison. The need to be recognized, to be acclaimed, to stand above the crowd leads to work and social environments that are cutthroat, riven with gossip, innuendo, even lies for the sake of winning, being on top, at the top of the heap. Those who are at the top have to keep the eyes and ears open to prevent others from taking their position. In such environments everyone gets caught up in comparing themselves to others. Those who see themselves as “better than” others, treat everybody else accordingly. Those who see themselves as “not as good as,” or “less than” others are driven by petty jealousies, resentment, and bitterness, or feelings of revenge.

Jesus is calling us to turn away from such thinking and acting. He asks us to do as he did, to be people for others. We are to serve, rather than be served. We are to even sacrifice for the common good of others. This passage comes in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount. It follows immediately after the Beatitudes and comes before his teachings on the law, and on anger and retaliation and divorce. As disciples of Jesus we are to be poor in spirit, meek in character. We are to mourn the brokenness of the world, and our own. We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice, and to be merciful. We are to live lives that arise from clean hearts and we are to be peacemakers. These characteristics are counter-cultural. They fly in the face of the current cultural habits and patterns.

A follower of Christ is to be a light in the darkness. Our lives are to be examples of moral character, of care and concern for the wellbeing of others. Our love ought to be sincere and universal. We should make no distinctions between male and female, rich and poor, or anything else. We ought to be known for our kindness, our fairness, our compassion, our sense of righteousness, and our capacity for forgiveness. Jesus commands us to love as he loved (John 13:34) and to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). If we practice these things willingly, with the grace of God, we will be that light shining for others. By our good deeds others will see how we glorify the Father in heaven and may wish to do so themselves.

Lord, We desire to be your good and faithful disciples in this world. Give us the wisdom and the strength to recognize and avoid the temptations of the ego that seem to hold so much sway in our world today. Fill us with your love so that it may shine through our every thought, word, and deed and bring people to you. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.