Shining a light in the world

Published 2:52 pm Thursday, September 13, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

One of my favorite verses is found in Philippians 2:15, where Paul says Christians “live in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

The image is stars, shining against the darkness of the night. The Apostle is saying that followers of Jesus are to shine for Him, in the midst of the sin and darkness around us.

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Charles Spurgeon, in his devotional, “Morning and Evening,” helps us think about the different functions of light, and how we are to function as lights for Christ:

First, we use lights to make things known. The reason we stub our toes in the darkness is that we can’t see what is in front of our feet. Can people see the Savior in our lives? Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” In other words, our good works enable people to see God working in and through our lives.

Obviously, part of shining for Jesus means that our good works in His Name are accompanied by our willingness to lovingly tell people about the good news of the gospel. Through our lives (good works) and our lips (telling people the gospel), we make Jesus known.

Second, we use lights for guidance. Does it occur to you that you encounter people every day who are groping around in the dark for answers? Are you ready to point them to the Answer?

Often, gospel conversations with people begin with our willingness to lovingly listen to their problems. As they share what is going on, we have a golden opportunity to point to the One who is greater than any problem and able to meet any need.

We also use lights for warning. The lighthouses that dot the coastline of the Outer Banks are testimony to that, as are the ships that ended up at the bottom of the sea. People need light to warn them of danger.

Often we shy away from having painful conversations with friends and loved ones that we need to have. We see them going the wrong way, making poor choices and headed for trouble. Are we willing to have a courageous conversation with them to warn them of danger?

It takes guts to do this. Few of us enjoy confrontation. It is so much easier to just ignore problems and procrastinate about having a difficult conversation with someone. But people who are in danger need someone who is walking in the light to help them, whether they realize they need help or not. Don’t talk to them in an arrogant or prideful way, but in humility and love. You can’t control whether they listen, but you can control whether you seek to help. Part of that help is pointing them to Jesus.

Finally, lights have a cheering influence. It is a fact that people who live in parts of the world where it is dark for months at a time are more subject to depression. Be an encouraging light for people!

Spurgeon says, “A Christian should carry sunshine wherever he goes and diffuse happiness around him.”

Go out and shine for the King today!

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.