Read Matthew: 5:14-16; Ephesians 4:25-32; Matthew 12:9-14
What could be more welcoming than light in a dark room? Wouldn't it always be appreciated? Isn't it a blessing to see what is around us? Shouldn't beauty be lauded when it can be seen with both our physical and spiritual eyes? The answer from scripture is no, and recently I was reminded, once again, of that truth.
Bill Waller who is a gubernatorial candidate in Mississippi recently made it known that he does not spend time alone with a woman who is not his wife. This has been dubbed "the Billy Graham Rule” since the evangelist had this as one of his foundational ministry principles. Mr. Waller has made it known that he has chosen to live by this maxim out of respect for his wife. In a world where we have heard many accounts of harassment, disrespect and abuse that women have suffered, wouldn't people applaud a man's honoring his wife and his desire to safeguard his marriage? The answer is not necessarily. Although undoubtedly some people stand with the candidate, others mock him and say that he opposes women or that he is a little boy who can't handle himself when alone with a woman.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said that we who belong to Him are the light of the world and that we should display that light so that people will see what He, the true light is like, John 8:12. This display of His light shining through us will show up like a bright light in a dark place. Let's look at some beautiful representations of this light from Ephesians 4:25-32.
1. The light of truthful speech. My husband and I have frequently remarked that it seems impossible to discern who is being truthful in the public arena. Often two totally contradictory statements are made, and it is impossible for both to be true. Promises are given and broken, often without a second thought. Ephesians 4:25 simply states that since we belong to one another, we should honor each other by speaking truthfully. We should be able to say yes or no concerning what we will do. We should not need to promise, using something on the earth to make it more binding, Matthew 5:33-37.
2. The light of anger without sin. Over and over we watch anger that flares up like toxic smoke, ready to bubble up upon all those who happen to be in its way. In Ephesians 4:26-27, we are reminded that dealing with the emotion of anger by not permitting it to fester will display God's light, rather than giving a foothold for Satan. This may involve overlooking an offense, Proverbs 19:11 or talking a problem out, if possible, Romans 12:18. It often involves showing kindness when the natural thing we want to do is just the opposite, Romans 12:19-21. We can react this way when we remember that God is the One Whose task it is to avenge. It is not part of our job description.
3. The light of sharing with those in need. In Ephesians 4:28, the darkness of stealing is to be replaced by the light of sharing. Although not many of us are thieves, it is easy to fall into compassion fatigue. There are so many needs, and we have limited resources. Often, we feel overwhelmed. What an opportunity to ask the Lord Who gave us everything we have where He wants us to shine His light into the life of someone in need. The size of the gift is not the important thing when it is the Holy Spirit's prompting that compels us to share.
4. The light of helpful words. In Ephesians 4:29, we are reminded not to speak with corrupt speech. Yesterday, as I was walking in the garden, examining the tomato plants, my hand touched a totally rotten tomato. It was mushy and it smelled bad. I withdrew my hand really fast, and I didn't want to come close to it again. We think it was struck by hail and only yesterday, did we notice its corruption. How useless that tomato was, and we didn't want it near any of the other tomatoes. What a picture of the speech we have to avoid so that God's light will be displayed through our lives. Rather than being useless and corrupt, our words should be what will be appropriate in any given situation.
If they are rejected, it shouldn't be because they are not wholesome, but rather because they are not welcomed by the darkness.
5. The light of forgiveness. Ephesians 4:30-32 reminds us of the enemies of forgiveness. Such things as bitterness, malice and wrath. Darkness says to store them up, but Jesus says to let them all go. Darkness says that we deserve to nurture these attitudes, but Jesus says that we have received so much grace and forgiveness that we have no room for the darkness that shouldn't be a part of His children's lives. This, of course, does not mean that the evil acts that are committed against us are to be minimized. When we forgive, we drop the right to avenge from our hands and rely on God to bring about perfect justice in His time.
Yet, if we are faithful and let our lights shine in these areas, even imperfectly, we might be rejected. God might not receive glory and honor, and we might receive only criticism and ridicule. That is what happened to Jesus. How ironic it was. The Savior healed a man in Mark 3:1-6. This unnamed gentleman's hand was made whole, and was Jesus glorified? No, instead, the leaders were so angry that He had healed on the Sabbath that they went away and plotted how they might kill Him.
When the light is rejected on the earth, it doesn't go unnoticed in heaven. Anyone who has seen Jesus' light displayed will one day admit that they were given opportunity to see what God was like, even though they spurned that Light. If the Lord doesn't receive glory in the here-and-now, He will receive it later.
What a good reason to keep shining. Displaying the Savior's light is never wasted, regardless of what we see now.