Let Your Light Shine
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt.5:16).
A sermon of an old‑time famous preacher, Charles Simeon, has this passage: "If your life be not as becometh the Gospel of Christ, the world will despise religion as a worthless unproductive thing, and those who profess godliness will be apt to catch the infection and to sink into lukewarmness." Is this one reason for the loss of faith and zeal which many bemoan in these trying days? Is it that the world’s unbelief and scorn as regards our message, reflected back to us, of itself induces a growing loss of zeal and even of conviction, resulting in a lack of enterprise and a resultant settling down in the social comfort of our fellowship and a waiting for the Lord to set up His Kingdom and take His Church to heavenly glory without being concerned any longer with the manifesting of the outward characteristics of the salt of the earth, lights in the world, and a city set on a hill?
It would seem so in some cases at least. Advancing age can justify some cessation of active service; the more strenuous and trying conditions of this distressful period involve a certain restriction of opportunity; the fact of decreasing numbers within the fellowship renders effective co‑operation increasingly difficult. None of these things would be seriously argued by any of us if our Master plainly appeared before us to exhort us, as He did His own disciples, that we go on in life, in whatever circumstances and under whatever disadvantages we may be placed, just showing how a Christian can live! In so many connections we fail to manifest that in our day‑to‑day dealings with our fellows. We fail often enough with our own brethren, and how much more with the world. And it brings leanness into the soul.
We tend to view our Christian life from too intellectual a viewpoint. Even our entrance thereinto is carefully prescribed for us in technical terms; repentance, justification, consecration, sanctification, glorification; and too often the whole matter is presented to the immature believer as though he is invited to enter into a commercial agreement with God. Cold as ice, and about as inviting! And all the time we are conscious—or ought to be conscious—of the warm, vibrant words "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not...a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Heb.10:5; Psalm 51:17)
This is the source from which we must get the oil for the light, the virtue for the salt, the power to raise that city to its elevation on the hill; here, at the foot of the Cross, where repentance and determination, contrition and hope, renunciation and consecration, go hand in hand. Not in the emotionless formalism of the detached acceptance of a cold invitation "if ye do this...I will give you that" but in the spontaneous, eager realisation of tender, compassionate tones "My son, give me thine heart...who will go for us?", lies the power that will make us to "shine forth as the sun" here and now in the sight of all men. In that experience, and that alone, shall we realise what was in the mind of the "beloved physician", Luke, when he beheld the fellowship of the Early Church and wrote of them,"Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) Is it any accident that those two phrases are associated so intimately together?