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Let your light shine

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The sixth way to weatherproof our life is found in the way we treat people and conduct our lives in the world. So often we are guilty of keeping silent or doing nothing as our neighbor is in crisis or has lost his way, making bad choices. While we cannot control another person’s choices, we can be an example, in word and deed, of the love and mercy of Christ.

In the great novel by Fyodor Dostoevski, The Brothers Karamazov, he writes: “The criminal in your community may be less guilty for his crime than you, his Christian neighbor. For you could have been a light to the evil doer, yet you were not. For the man remained beside you in darkness. Had you been the kind of example you ought to have been and allowed your light to shine on that lost man’s path, perhaps he might not have stumbled into his crime. If you had loved your neighbor as yourself and lavished upon him some of the care you generously lavish upon yourself, shared some of the warmth God has privileged you to possess, that criminal might have changed in time.”

We all know people who are on the brink of despair; hurting, homeless, alone, or unwanted. They are suffering for making choices that short-circuited their lives, and are paying the price, experiencing the “Law of Natural Consequences.” That is, making unwise, immoral, unethical choices that result in brokenness, addiction, evil, and darkness.

Do we share any responsibility for their condition? Do we have any responsibility for their renewal? We live in an age of easy judgement, where we can scroll through a news feed and pass judgement on criminals, politicians, neighbors, brothers and sisters. We live in an era of the cell phone video camera, used to document evil for social media, instead of dropping it and running to the aid of the person in harms way. We grow more aloof, more callous, more removed from practical acts of love and mercy with every passing year.

This precept from Jesus is not a suggestion, rather, it is a command, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.”

To be truly weatherproof in life is not to cocoon ourselves in a place that is warm and dry and safe. On the contrary, it is to be available, be visible, love our neighbor in practical, simple, and meaningful ways. Day in and day out, through kindness and generosity, mercy and grace, to provide a little light in the darkness of a hopeless life. And in time, maybe a person will decide to be honest with themselves and repent. Or maybe they won’t. But we will remain consistent, lighting the way should they ever decide to change.

In Bible days people fished with hooks, spears, and nets. Not a lot has changed in the basic tackle box. But one interesting technique, used by night fishermen, was fishing with light. A “Torch Basket,” fixed to a pole, was extended over the water, and fishermen would study the water for signs of curious fish who were attracted to the light. When the fish came near, the nets were quickly deployed.

Like fish, people are instinctively drawn to light. Light means warmth and safety, it provides comfort and eases our tension. The light in a Christian that people are drawn to, is Jesus, and the glorious light of the gospel—God loves them, cares for them, and sent Jesus to save them, heal them and take away their sins. That is the light in you and me, dear one. It is not our goodness or generosity, it is Jesus, Savior and Lord shining through your good works of love and mercy. Make sure your light directs others to the cross, to the grave, and to the empty tomb. For Jesus lives, Jesus loves, and Jesus saves!

Shine on.