Thursday, April 26, 2018
Philippians 2:15 “…among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Matthew 5:14 – 16 “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Maybe the extensive winter is finally over. Ten days ago, we had a big snowstorm here in western Wisconsin. I drove the 4-wheel drive so I could make my way around town with some ease and a sense of security. The snowplows were out early removing the snow from the road and leaving a layer of salt behind them to melt what was left. As I made my way to the various appointments I had for the day, the salty slush was sprayed up onto my bronze SUV and it began to look very white. Later that evening, on my way home, I wondered why I was having difficulty seeing the road ahead. It was as if my headlights weren’t even on. I pulled over to the side of the road and grabbed the towel I carry for such need, and proceeded to wipe the dried salt residue from my headlights. I knew I needed to remove the dirt from the lens so the light could shine through.
That is exactly what Paul is teaching us in Philippians 2:15. We have been filled with the Light of Jesus Christ, but until we remove the dirt from our lives it doesn’t get to shine very well. When our lives are on the path of purity, the light of God is visible in the darkness. When our lives are covered with the slush of the world, the light is hidden.
Take note of three important truths:
First, blameless behavior makes the light visible. Our behavior doesn’t produce the light – God is the light in us, and He is shining brightly all the time. Our behavior determines whether or not others can see the light. My headlights were on when they were dirty, and the bulb was producing a consistent amount of light, but the dirt kept it from being seen. God is at work in us and His light is shining. We are already bright; we just need to clean the lens.
Second, the light fixture isn’t supposed to get any of the glory – only the light itself. When I got back in my vehicle and headed towards home, I wasn’t thankful for the housing in which the light bulb was fixed, or for the lens that was now clean. I’m sure other drivers weren’t taking notice of the design of the reflectors in the bulb housing. We all just noticed the light, and we were thankful for it. I could see and I could be seen. But let those lights get dirty again, and all the attention is drawn to the cause, which focus all of the attention on the vehicle and not the light.
That’s exactly what happens spiritually. When we are blameless and without fault, we shine brightly and the world sees the light in our good deeds. According to the words of Jesus this causes people to praise the Light, not the vehicle. But let the vehicle interfere with the light’s brightness, and suddenly all the attention is drawn away from the Light and is focused on us. Try this the next time you are driving at night: when a car approaches and the lights are bright, try to see inside the light fixture. Try to see the emblem on the front of the car so you know what make it is. Try to determine the color of the car. Try to see the face of the driver. You can’t, because the light is shining. Our lives are to be the same: the purer we become, the more the light shines and reduces the visibility of self.
Third, every once in a while the light fixture needs to be adjusted so the light is shining in the right direction. I just finished tightening a headlight on my car that was loose, and last night I noticed that it is not shining on the road any more. It is aimed too high and down the shoulder of the road. I can see the road signs really well. I will have to adjust the housing so that the light shines where it is supposed to. The lights looked great on the wall in my garage, but out on the road where they were needed they didn’t do the job they were designed to do.
God’s light is intended to shine in the darkness. Many of us have adjusted our lives so the light only shines in the confines of our comfort zones. We let it shine only when other light is around. We shine great when we are in the garage at church or in Bible studies, but when we are out on the road the light is not shining on the path God has us on. We direct it to shine where we want it to shine and where it benefits us. But Jesus said ”let your light shine before men,” because God wants people who are in the darkness to be drawn to the light of His love.
So, check your headlights. The light is on. Make sure it can be seen.