16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:16
May Our Relationships Give Glory To Our Heavenly Father
by Hannah Callahan
If you’ve grown up in church, or even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard this gospel children’s song: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” This popular tune was derived from our Scripture passage today, Matthew 5:16. According to verse 14, we who are believers in Jesus Christ are the light of the world.
And how do we come to be the light of the world? Jesus tells us in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the first step to becoming the light is following The Light. Without knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cannot have the light of the kingdom of God within us. But if we do know and love Jesus, that means we carry the same light He carried while He was on earth and still carries as He sits at the right hand of God.
So what does it mean to be a light? In the preceding verses, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to the whole house.” So in the same way, we are to be a city on a hill or a lamp that gives light to a whole house.
Being a light does not earn salvation; it proclaims salvation. We are the agents God has chosen to proclaim the Good News in both word and deed. In fact, Peter assumes that as believers, our light will shine brightly enough that people will ask us about it. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” (1 Peter 3:15). So we must not simply be “good people,” but have a purpose behind our good deeds. It is indeed the Holy Spirit of God that enables us to accomplish those good deeds and to love abundantly in the first place.
You can be a light in a number of different ways. It may involve meeting a practical need of someone in your community. It may be praying over or encouraging someone during a trying season of life. It could look like making a decision based on integrity instead of greed in the work place. But sometimes being a light does not mean having it all together. Sometimes being a light looks like confessing your weaknesses and struggles so others may see that it is only God’s power that sustains you and gives you hope amidst your unfortunate circumstances.
And what is the end goal of being a light? “That they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16). Again, good deeds are not cause for salvation, but simply a product of it. And when people see those good deeds, Scripture tells us they will glorify our Father who is in heaven, which is the cry of our hearts.
- How can you be a light to a neighbor? Your school? Your work associates? Your family? Be specific and make a plan of action that you will accomplish this week.
- Are you prepared to make a defense for anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you? Do you have a way to share the gospel through your testimony, the Romans Road, or simply the story of Christ? If not, seek out someone you know who can teach you how to do that.
- Be really honest with yourself here. What is your motive behind good works? Is it to check off another box to ensure your ticket to heaven? Is it so people will look at you and think to themselves, “Wow, what a good person”? Scan the depths of your heart and confess any wrong or selfish motives that might fuel your good deeds, and ask God to give you a heart that desires to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.