Summary: Light is a special thing to God. Paul uses this special thing to teach us about witnessing and humility.
Light is a special thing to God. God’s first spoken words in Scripture are, “Let there be light,” and it was the first thing ever created in our universe. He made light to be a special thing with unique characteristics. When a star dies out, its light can still travel for years and still shine. It is also proven that on a clear night that you can see the flicker of a flame up to 30 miles away.
Now, hear the words of St. Paul: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life”.
Do you ever wonder if your Christian life doesn’t matter or goes unnoticed? Well, Paul begs to differ. He says it does matter, and that it is noticed. This morning we’ll talk about being a light, at how Jesus becoming a man impacts that, and the application that God works and shines through us.
Before we talk about being a light, we have to first define what light is. God’s light is His truth, which is His Word and found in it. It is also His grace, our undeserved mercy which He gives us on account of His Son Jesus. Light is God’s grace and truth, and it shines in us through faith and burns brighter as He works and lives in us.
What is darkness? Darkness is everything that is the opposite of faith, God’s truth, and His ways. There is no grey, for there is no such thing as grey light. But with this in mind, Paul’s imagery springs to life: as Christians, we are lights in a dark black sky.
We really do live in a world of darkness. It seems that Christianity is on the decline and that it is getting darker and harder to shine Christ’s light. Groups like ISIS are trying to extinguish the light of Christ in the Middle East with brute force. Ideals like Communism and Atheism are trying to do their best to do their part by using government, social, and peer pressure to put out the light of Christianity in America, Asia, and Europe.
It can be difficult to be a light as God-pleasing morals are leaving our society and when it seems that few people live a Christian life. Just this week, I caught a glimpse of a special that lauded and celebrated the life and work of Hugh Heffner, along with his positive impacts. Not sure what would be positive about his life and work. When hearing this, the Apostle Paul says, “What’s the big deal? For as it gets darker, light shines brighter.”
We are to shine our light in the world, but how do we do that? We do that by not only living a life of faith, but by living one marked especially by the virtue of humility according to Paul. For humility is love in action. Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Simply put, humility puts others before myself and considers others greater. But can you do that without love? Can you truly put someone before you or consider others greater without it? Can you truly look to the interest of others without love? Can you do it sincerely? Later Paul also says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
Humility does not complain or grumble about doing tasks, chores, activities, and serving others. Rather, it does them joyfully. But again, can you do this without love?
Humility and love go hand-in-hand. Humility is love in action; love is its motive. These actions and humility help us to shine Christ’s light in a dark and sinful world. They help to point others to Christ, for humility is the very thing our sinful world struggles with doing.
However, being humble is not an easy thing. Paul probably couldn’t have said a harder thing for us as sinful human beings to do to have us shine as lights among a sinful generation. We naturally are selfish and self-seeking. The world tells us to first look out for number one, and then to look out for and help others, and we can fall prey to that philosophy.
There is also a true danger about being humble in a sinful world because we can be taken advantage of by being humble and serving. It is hard to stomach the fact that by being humble there is a great chance to be taken advantage of. Paul is aware of this, which is why he gives us a great example of a man who shined God’s light in the world.