Summary: You are the light of the world. As you live out this goodness visibly in front of the people of the world, your life will point them to Jesus where they too can find life that is real life.
Opening illustration: Robert Lewis Stevenson, peering out of the window saw a workman come by and light the gas lights along the street. When asked what he was watching, the young boy said, “I see a man making holes in the darkness.”
Let us turn to Matthew 5 and see how we as believers can make big and bigger holes in the darkness around us.
Introduction: Our light must shine, by doing such good works as men may see. What is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study to make suitable to our profession, and praiseworthy. We must aim at the glory of God.
In John 9: 5 Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When Jesus commanded His followers to be the lights of the world, He demanded nothing less than that they should be like Himself.
How to make holes in the darkness?
1. Shine to GUIDE (v. 14)
Light is a very common metaphor in the Bible. Along with darkness, light is often used to contrast knowledge and ignorance. Here, it almost certainly stands for the world’s opportunity to perceive the truth about Jesus. The world is “in the dark” about God, but Christians “turn on the lights”. Light allows people to see. Christians allow the world to understand how much God loves them and what Jesus has done to restore their relationship with him.
On the estuary of any river we may see the line of lights which marks the channel for the ships to sail in safety. We know how difficult even the city streets were when they were no lights. A light is something to make clear the way. So then the Christian must make the way clear to others. That is to say, the Christian must of necessity be an example. One of the things this world needs more than anything else is people who are prepared to be foci of goodness. Suppose there is a group of people, and suppose it is suggested that some questionable thing should be done. Unless someone makes his protest the things will be done. But if someone rises and says, “I will not be a party to that,” another and another and another will rise to say, Neither will I.” But unless they had been given the lead, they would have remained silent. There are many people in this world who have not the moral strength and courage to take a stand by themselves, but if someone gives them a lead, they will follow; if they have someone strong enough to lean on, they will do the right thing. It is the Christian’s duty to take the stand which the weaker brother / sister will support, to give the lead which those with less courage will follow. The world needs its guiding lights; there are people waiting and longing for a lead to take the stand and do the thing which they do not dare to take and to do by themselves.
Illustration: One of the great things about camping out in the country is that you can get away from the city lights and really see the stars. When you are away from the city, a full moon is bright enough to find your way around in the night. The sky is full of light from the stars. In a world of darkness, we are those who have come from darkness into light and we are to reflect the light we have found in Jesus. But Jesus’ point is that we are not just to shine our lights in our own little circle of influence, but we are to shine them so that every place of darkness is either brought to the light or is exposed for what it is.
G. Campbell Morgan said that the church did the most for the world when the church was the least like the world. Today, many churches have the idea they must imitate the world in order to reach the world. A nation will not decay and collapse because of the people who peddle pornography or illicit drugs, but because of Christians who are no longer as salt and light. Sinners will act like sinners. When saints begin acting like sinners, their compromise hurts not only themselves and their families and churches, but also contributes to the decay of the entire nation. Are you convicted yet?
2. Shine to WARN (v. 15)
A light is often the warning which tells us to halt when there is danger ahead. It is sometime’s the Christian’s duty to bring to his fellowmen the necessary warning. This is often difficult, and is often hard to do it in a way which will not do more harm than good; but one of the most poignant tragedies in life is for someone, especially a young person, to come and say to us, “I would have never been in the situation in which I now find myself, if you had only spoken in time.” It was said of Florence Allshorn, the famous teacher and principal, that if she ever had occasion to rebuke her students, she did it “with her arm around about them.” If our warnings are given, not in anger, not in irritation, not in criticism, not in condemnation, not in the desire to hurt, but in love, they will be effective.