I was going to do two separate posts until I realized that these two passages actually go well together.
Let’s go over what these two verses say.
Matthew 5:16 says: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Joshua 1:9 says: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Do you see the connection?
The first verse is a command. The second verse tells you to follow this command and not to worry because God is with you. In a sense, Joshua 1:9 can go with any command type verse. But, I decided to use Matthew 5:16.
Let’s break this thing down.
When Jesus said to let your light shine, the question people may ask is “what is this light”? That’s what I’m gonna talk about. In my interpretation of this light, it is the Holy Spirit.
Okay, so Jesus died and rose again. Just before he ascended into heaven, he told his followers that he would send down a companion. This companion was the Holy Spirit. As we know (or should know) the Holy Spirit is the spirit of God, and is therefore God Himself. And so, God was coming back down, this time as spirit vs flesh.
So, when we accept Jesus into our lives, we accept the Holy Spirit to live in us and to give our spirit life. That’s how that works.
And so, the Holy Spirit is a light. He is the light.
So, let me give an example.
Think of a candle. Now, this candle has a wick at the top that runs un the candle. This wick, when lit, is able to hold a flame, which produces light. Without this wick, it is dark. Stay with me here. Sure, electricity is around but, especially before those times, candles were the source of light when the sun called it a day.
Anyway, it’s dark without a lit candle. Now, imagine this: You are a candle. If you are not a Christian, your wick is not lit. Now, before the Holy Spirit came, there was no light. No one was lit. Sure, there were Prophets of God and such, but nobody’s spirit was truly lit and alive. And so, the world was a dark place.
When we’re in a dark place, our number one things we try to do is to find light. Where is the source of light? We naturally don’t care that much for darkness. We can get confused and disoriented. The first time we see light, for the most part, we are drawn to it.
Okay, so the Holy Spirit came and now, when we get saved, we are lit. So, back to the candle example. When we’re lighting several candles, most of us take one candle, and use that flame to ignite other candles.
See it yet?
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of light as He is God. And so, the only way to be lit, is through Him. So, when we accept Jesus, we accept this light. And so, He literally puts His fire in us so that we can produce this same fire.
That’s where Matthew 5:16 comes in. Jesus wants us to let our light shine because our light is the light of God. It’s God’s light. And, as a Christian, it’s our job to spread this light around. Let people see this light. And, as Jesus put it, “deeds” is the light. Our actions show what kind of light we have.
So, what about another example?
You’re in a store. You reach the bread aisle. You notice that the bread you typically get is apparently out of stock. Welp, your next hope is to ask one of the employees if there’s any bread in the back room. Ya never know, right?
You approach the employee and ask for a check for bread. The employee looks like he doesn’t want to be bothered and is rather nasty towards you. In the end, most people would say something like this: “Oh, I’m not going there again. This person was rude.”
Now, why is that? To me, it’s because that, whether we realize it or not, we judge things by what we see. All we see is a rude employee. And, because the company hired him, this company must be okay with his behavior. Again, whether we realize it or not, that’s how our mind can work.
It’s the same with Jesus. People don’t see Jesus. All they can see is who are supposed to represent Him. By accepting Jesus, God is marking us as His own and His people. We are His ambassadors in a sense to this world.
What happens if we misrepresent Jesus? People will look at us and say, “Well, I don’t want to be associated with someone like that” and, whether it’s fair or not, this person will turn away from all Christians. Think of the common saying: One apple ruins the entire batch. One “bad” Christian can ruin it for all of us and make it harder for us.
Jesus said not to cover our light. We shouldn’t be hiding the fact that we are Christians. We should be spreading this light for all to see. And that’s where Joshua 1:9 comes in.
We need to be bold and courageous. When we go showing this light, we must not be afraid or dismayed. God is with us and will protect and guide us. Yes, there will be persecution. Followers of God will be mocked. But, that’s okay. God will honor the fact that, in spite of the ridicule, you continued to let your light shine and did the good deeds.
The second part of Matthew 5:16 brings up these deeds. Why would people glorify God for things we do?
One example is dealing with college. When a college accepts a student, they accept certain standards. If these standards are met, then great. If not, you get the boot.
But, look a little deeper. Again, whether we realize it or not, we do this often. When we hear about a famous person today or from history, sometimes, we like to see where they came from. Oh, he went to Harvard. Maybe I should go there.
If enough great things come from one particular source, people start to be drawn to this source and give this source a lot of respect and reverence. Another example is birth places of great people. You can also say the parents of great children get a nod.
It’s the same with God. When people see God’s people doing great things, ultimately, they are drawn to God. Christians need to do their part in making sure they direct any praises given to them, to God.
So yeah, be bold. Don’t hold that light back. Someone had to light you. Someone had to be courageous for you. And so, you must do the same.
Matthew 5:15 says: Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Right there. That’s why hiding our light doesn’t make sense. Why light a lamp just to put it under something? You might as well just leave the lamp alone. God didn’t light you just to put you into hiding. You are supposed to be a light for those around you, especially for the people who can’t see.
Sometimes, our light can fade though. So, let’s use another example. This time, you are a rechargeable flashlight. As time goes on, your power fades. It’s time for a recharge. Ways of doing this can be church, one on one prayer with God, daily devotionals, meeting with fellow Christians in small groups (think book club), and more. These are ways to recharge your light so you can be as bright as possible all of the time.
Never let your light die. Winds will come to put that flame out, but you must stand strong.
Take these two verses together, children of God.