Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
It is so easy to become selfish and self centered. I have to constantly watch myself. As I drifted into sleep the last night I had a dream, a vivid dream. In that dream I was at a Church I used to pastor many years ago. As I looked at the growth of the Church I found a sermon outline left on a table. I couldn’t read the full outline (I like to read sermons) but I could see the title of the sermon. It was called “Thee”. T.H.E.E. Like the King James “Thee” and “Thou”. I never have understood the difference between “thee” and “thou”, so I looked it up. “Thou” is used when the person addressed is the subject, such as “Thou art here”. “Thee” is used when the person addressed is the object, such as “He gave it to thee”. Clear as mud, eh?
I woke up when I saw the title of the sermon in my dream. The one thought I had in my mind was,
“Was the sermon about ME, US, or God?”
Every sermon should glorify God.
Everything we do should glorify God.
But we are so easily distracted from glorifying God. Having listened to many sermons for years now, a vast majority of those preached are focused on comforting the flock rather than magnifying God. There’s nothing wrong with comforting the flock. We all need comfort. But we also need to be reminded that we serve God, and God does not serve us.
We Do Not See Our Own Blindness
When our nation was founded by the Pilgrims, British Christians, it was founded as a place for religious freedom. Our Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) stated in part:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
So we as a nation separated from The British Empire and declared independence for all white people.
Black people were not considered in that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” statement. Patriot Patrick Henry made a speech to the Second Virginia Convention (March 23, 1775, at Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia) where he famously stated:
“Give me liberty, or give me death”
Did I mention he was standing in a Church building? Henry owned 67 slaves, and did not at that time see the hypocrisy of his remarks. The Church in America compromised on slavery just as it is doing on abortion today. Our first Presidents owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson owned over 600 slaves, and George Washington 200 slaves. Twelve of our Presidents owned slaves at some time. Thank God for the changes that Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr brought into our America. He died supporting freedom for all. He died letting his light shine.
It costs us to let our light shine.
But we must let our light shine.
We come to a Wednesday night Prayer Meeting and Bible Study so that we can glorify God. Unity glorifies God. It costs us to come on Wednesday night. It doesn’t cost us much compared to other believers in other parts of the world, but it costs us. As we focus on God’s Word our flames are lit. When we leave this place we are to shine for Jesus where ever we go. We are to glorify God by being obedient to Christ’s command. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there were Christians who stood up against state laws that were discriminatory and anti-American. America is about freedom and fairness. Would to the Lord we would stand together against the horrors of abortion.
Abortion, just like state sponsored segregation and discrimination, are a terrible twisting of our Constitution.
All humans are created in God’s image – even those little babies still in their mother’s womb. These children are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, just as we are. The unborn have value. People of color have value. All people have value. Letting our light shine is standing up for what is right and Biblical. It is not to go along with the crowd, but to go along with Jesus. Jesus would not have supported discrimination nor abortion. If you doubt me, go to John chapter four and read how Jesus approached a Samaritan woman, a person despised by the Jews of His day. Jesus reached out for all. Jesus loved all.
Like A Candle Jesus Wants Our Light To Shine
Jesus is a Master Preacher. As God, He understands both the Word of God (the Bible which He wrote) and humans (which He also created). He knows His audience. So when Jesus told His people to shine, Jesus used a candle.
Why a candle?
At the time Jesus preached this sermon there was no LED bulbs, incandescent bulbs, florescent bulbs, nor even generators to run such bulbs. Now our Jesus is God become flesh:
John 1:1-2, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. … 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …
Jesus knew all about these alternate sources of light. But in His day as He ministered, He ministered where the people were. The only light sources available at this time in human history was sunlight or starlight, lamps or lamp stands, and candles or fireplaces. Now you all know about sunlight (though if you thought “moonlight” you were wrong. The moon has no light of its own, but reflects sunlight). In another place Jesus spoke of ten virgins waiting on a groom:
Matthew 25:1-4 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
The lamp is much like our camp lanterns, or the old oil burning lanterns. These lamps burned olive oil, whereas our old lamps burned coal oil or white kerosene. A lamp without oil cannot burn. The oil in the lamp symbolized the Holy Spirit of God Who indwells the believer (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). But Jesus did not speak about a lamp in our text today. Why? Not all people owned lamps. The poorest people had no lamps to light their way.
Everyone had access to candles.
The poorest and the richest owned candles.
Jesus used candles to represent His people.
Jesus came for EVERY PERSON who would receive Him.
Anyone can be a candle. Think about candles. Candles are made. Candles do not just come into being. They are made. Someone had to gather the wax, the wick, and put it together to make a candle. God made everyone to be candles. The Bible says when God created humanity:
Genesis 1:27 … God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
God blessed the first couple, then told them to “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). God wanted light everywhere. He told His candles to obey Him, work with Him to make more candles, and cover the earth with light.
But Adam sinned.
(PREACHER blow out candle)
Adam listened to the word of the worldly snake rather than to the Word of God. On that day Adam spiritually died. His flame was blown out by sin. The Bible says:
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
The candle was out. Sin grew in the world, and death by sin. Creation grew so bad and dark that God chose to destroy all by flood.
Genesis 6:5-8 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
There was yet one lit candle on earth, and that candle was Noah. Noah loved the Lord. Noah’s candle was lit.
Candles Cannot Light Themselves
Matthew 5:15 Neither do men light a candle
A candle cannot light itself.
By Grace God lights the candle.
The earth had become so dark that only Noah stood between it and total destruction. And Noah was not perfect. When he got off the Ark at the end of the flood the Bible says God made a covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:13-17), a covenant marked by the Rainbow. In that covenant God promised never to destroy all humanity by water again (Genesis 9:15). This was such good news that Noah went out and got drunk (Genesis 9:21). Noah wasn’t perfect. None of us are but Jesus!
Only God can light a candle. The fire on a candle comes from an outside source. No candle lights itself. Even those funny birthday candles that relight when you blow them out – they have to be lit the first time. The only way for a person to light a candle in Jesus’ day was to go to a source of fire and light the candle. It is God Who saves us. It is Gods Who, in the beginning, said:
Genesis 1:3 God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Light does not form by accident, but by intent. God put light in the sky, light in the universe, and then light on planet earth. What lights the Christian? The Psalmist said:
Psalms 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
The day that we first heard the glorious Gospel of Christ this Word lit our flame. We came from a dead candle to a lit candle. God the Holy Spirit brought His flame into our hearts.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
With salvation came light. I did not make my own light, and neither did you.
Titus 3:3-6 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;
We heard the glorious Gospel of Jesus. We heard that He died for our sins. He opened our eyes. His Holy Spirit came to us. Whereas we were in darkness, God Himself came and lit upon us. Whereas others heard and rejected, we said “yes” to God. Because of this we are:
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
We have Christ as our Savior, God as our Father, and the Holy Spirit as our Empowerment. We have been lit to shine for the Triune God.
We are to shine so that others can see.
Ephesians 5:8 (ESV) for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light..
God has made you to be light.
It Will Cost You To Be Light
Matthew 5:14-15 Ye are the light of the world. … 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
It will cost you to be the light that God calls you to be. A light unlit is no good.
(PASTOR, hold up sealed box of candles)
I have here a sealed box of birthday candles. We know they are birthday candles because they are smaller, and they are marked as such. As long as these candles stay in this box they are only potential birthday candles. This is how many Christians live their lives. They hide in the dark.
We are not called to hide in the dark, but to be light.
Light is the enemy of darkness.
When a candle burns unlike a lantern it burns consuming itself. There are two candles on this table. Notice one is long, the other not. Both can burn. The one that is burned down lower has been doing what it was designed to do for about 2 hours. The other candle has not. The Bible says:
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
It is the calling of every Christian to burn brightly for Christ. Christians overseas are burning brightly for Christ. This morning I read of a pastor, a sweet Child of God, who was captured by Boko Haram (the Islamic state in Nigeria).
“The Rev Lawan Andimi was brutally murdered by the terror group on 20 January (2020), with news of his death being received the following day by Nigerian journalist Ahmed Salkida … The 58-year-old pastor, the father of nine children, was shot … by the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram.”
Our Jesus told us:
John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
The darkness will never love the light. Light shines the darkness away. Jesus told us as His people to shine in the house. Our house is the entire world. We are to shine where ever we are, knowing that there will be those who will despise us. Shine anyway. Light can only come when we who are light shine in the darkness for others to see. C.H. Spurgeon said:
“There is no need to label light to prevent its being confounded with the darkness, and there is no need for it to sound a trumpet before itself, saying, “Here I am.” What fellowship has light with darkness? No sooner does the light come into a man’s heart than he is separate from those who are all around him, called by the grace of God by a vocation which at once sets a difference between the called ones and the rest of the sons of men. The darkness could not have created the light; for it does not even comprehend it, “the light shines in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Those who are all around the Christian man cannot figure him out, for his life is hidden with Christ in God. At his conversion they perceive that a strange alteration had come over him; and, as Dr. Watts says, they “gaze and admire, and hate the change”
Be the light. Be the light that God has called you to be. Be the light even if you are the only one. Being darkness is easy. Being light costs you. It cost Jesus.
Are YOU Light Or Dark?
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Are YOU the light that God made you to be. The word “YOUR” is found three times in this text. When a candle is lit, the flame that it has did not originally belong there. But once the flame is lit, it becomes the stewardship of the candle. It becomes the candle’s own light. Sin will blow your light out. Stay close to Jesus, THE Light of the world. Confess sin promptly, and draw near to Him Who saved you. You are responsible for your light. Keep it burning by prayer and surrender to God’s Word.
I came across this song by Theodore Monod called “Oh, The Bitter Shame And Sorrow”:
Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I let the Savior’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
All of self, and none of Thee,
All of self and none of Thee.
Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the cursed tree;
Heard Him pray, Forgive them, Father,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
Some of self, and some of Thee,
Some of self, and some of Thee.
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower while I whispered,
Less of self, and more of Thee,
Less of self, and more of Thee.
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my heart’s petition,
None of self, and all of Thee,
None of self, and all of Thee.
May God move our hearts to truly say, “none of self, and all of Thee”. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word light your hearts this very day. Amen.