Thought for the Week - 7th FebruaryGraham Rutherford
Matthew 5: 14-16
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
This verse comes from the Sermon on the Mount; the very first occasion where Christ preached a sermon.
If you can imagine the picture, we read that Christ walked up the mountain and sat down to preach. They think that Christ preached outside, because no temple could hold the number of people that were there to listen.
Christ says “You are the light of the world”. This is Christ who is speaking these words. He is commissioning those who are following Him. This was the beginning of his ministry. He had so much to come, so much teaching, miracles and the raising of the dead. Yet there at the very beginning, he was saying “You are the light of the world”.
This isn’t a politician, prime minister or someone in our society today with power saying these words. This is the greatest authority of all! The son of the living God said these words to those who were following Him then, and to those who are following Him today. He is speaking to you and I, saying you are the light of the world. This was Christ who was there with the Father at the beginning that said “let there be light”… and there was light. That is the authority behind these words! We are the light because we have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as saviour.
In Matthew 5: 2-3 we read: “One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them”. That’s you and I! Not someone who’s been to college to study a Degree in Divinity, or someone who knows everything about all religions. These were every day, simple people – like you and I. This was everyone! This was right at the beginning of Christ’s ministry – they hadn’t given up everything in their lives and been in a school of ministry with Christ for three years at this point. They didn’t have to wait to be experienced Christians, they didn’t have to wait to be sanctified or take on the full wait of His wonderful teaching and be changed inside. The very fact they had accepted Christ, and that they were following Him, was enough. It was not because of what they knew, it was because of what they had become by following Christ.
Someone once said that “wherever there is faith in Christ, there is light”. And that to me sums it up. If you’re reading this and you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have that light. You and I are out in the world, and we’re given this commission to carry this light – it’s everyone’s responsibility.
In John 8:12 we read: “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life’.” Not once you become a perfect person – because we won’t – but right now, you will walk with that light and have it inside you.
The light will show the darkness how dark it is. Many times Christian’s have come to me because they’re being persecuted. It’s throughout scripture and is going to happen. Because if you’re going to stand for the Lord Jesus Christ, and have that light burning in your life, the darkness that’s in other people will convict them of their sins… and as a result, you will be met with cursing and the avoidance. That is the reaction you will get for some people.
I remember many years ago, as a newly saved Christian, I attended an open air meeting to tell others about my saviour. I was speaking to someone when people started throwing coins at me! Don’t be surprised if you carry that light, you’re going to have that reaction.
In Matthew 5:10 we read right at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount: “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”. God blesses you when people mock you, persecute you, lie about you, and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are his follower. The Lord Jesus Christ knew it was going to happen. Be happy about it and be very glad, for a great reward awaits you in heaven! Remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as saviour, then you have received a phenomenal power. That phenomenal power – whether you like it or not – is inside you, if you walk with Christ. And it’s going to upset some people. We read that when the Holy Spirit comes, it’s going to convict of sin and convince of righteousness. That’s what you should have in your life.
We sometimes live in fear. It’s good to have a healthy fear of sin. What we have in the Lord Jesus Christ is such a positive thing, that if you and I live to the best of our ability, and walk in that light, then you should have no fear of sin. And you should have no fear of satan, because your life is in the hands of Christ.
We read in John 1: 5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it”. That’s the light that Christ was talking about – the darkness can never extinguish it! If you can’t think of your own life like that, then think of other lives that have passed in Christendom; lives who would not deny the Lord Jesus Christ and would rather die first. That’s the light that they had inside them! The darkness could not extinguish the light that was in these lives. We should be exactly the same. It doesn’t matter what darkness comes against you.
The light we receive produces the fruits of the spirit. When this light comes into us, we begin to change. We read in Galatians 5: 22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” The love of God isn’t a soppy or weak love – when you come to the Cross of Christ, you find a love that the world does not know. It’s a love that’s phenomenal, which touches the deepest parts of us, and changes us beyond all recognition!
We read about love in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” That’s not the soppy love of the world! If you’re not finding that love that I’m speaking about, then don’t give up… go to God and ask God to show you this love! That it’ll be living and burning in your life! You need it coursing through your veins. Only the love that God gives us will allow us to forgive our enemies.
And joy… in 1 Peter 1: 8 we read “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy”. That’s not a joy that the world gives! The inexpressible joy isn’t dependant on the circumstances that happen around us, because we’re all going to have difficult circumstances and things that come against us. But this joy that this light gives us, defies it, because deep down inside we still have that joy because we have Christ.
And Peace… in Philippians 4: 6 we read: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. The world needs this peace! How many people are fretful, knocked off their guard with the things that come against them in life? We’ve all been there. But this light, will give you a peace that will not disappear. It will guard our hearts and minds.
We are changed by this light and continue to be changed by this light… our objectives, our thought processes, our desires, our speech, our actions, are all changed by the light we receive. We don’t go out and do it in our own strength. In Romans 12: 2 we read: “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” This is an ongoing process, we are continually being changed… as we walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, our bodies stay the same, but the light shines brighter inside us!
In the verse in Matthew above, we read “Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house”. We have a responsibility to have the light that’s within us shine out to others. We should be feeding others with this light. Think of the circumstances where you could allow that light to show to others. Not just to those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their saviour, but to your brothers and sisters in Christ in church too. When the Lord speaks to you in the morning, as “Lord give me the opportunity to share that with somebody”. God speaks to us for a reason – He wants us to carry that light for a very specific reason.
We have a responsibility. That’s what should have in our heart… “You are the light of the world”. Never forget it, never push it away. Instead, speak to others about His wonderful grace and what He’s done for us.