Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
This may be one of the first verses you learned in Sunday school. No doubt you sang the song: This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Jesus said that we (His disciples) are the light of the world. We must not hide that light under a bushel or in a church building. We must let it shine. How will people see that light? Through our good works.
The German atheist philosopher Nietzsche once said that if he saw more redeemed people he might be more inclined to believe in their Redeemer. Christians who do not have changed lives have a credibility gap. If I am trying to tell you how great my doctor is, but I am dying under his care, you might question his skill. If I try to tell you how great my auto mechanic is, but my car is belching black smoke out the exhaust, you will probably be reluctant to entrust your own vehicle to him. What good does it do to tell people how great our Savior is if they cannot see that we ourselves have been saved from sin? Let your light shine.
What does Jesus mean by light? Jesus also calls Himself "the light of the world." John calls Him "the life that is the light of men," "the light that shines in the darkness" (John 1:4-5). The light in us is His light, the indwelling Christ, the Holy Spirit within us. The apostle Paul speaks of "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4). We have that light shining through our lives if our actions reflect the nature of Christ—His love, compassion, and forgiveness. His light shines through our attitudes, words, and deeds. When people see that our lives have been changed so that we have Jesus' values and see the power of God at work in us, they will agree that we do have a great Savior. When they see redeemed people, they are more inclined to believe that we have a Redeemer. The Christlike life is the platform on which individual testimony becomes convincing.
The alternative is for the Christian to live in the dark. Scripture teaches that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (1 John 1:5-6). If no light shines from your life, either you have no relationship with Christ or you are bringing dishonor to Him. It is a sad thing for someone to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and continue to live an openly sinful life. It brings disrepute to Christ and the gospel. It is a stumbling block for unbelievers. It is certainly not effective in convincing anyone that Christ has the power to transform lives. Our responsibility as disciples and evangelists is to have lives so transformed by the Word and the inward presence of Christ that everyone can see His light reflected in our acts of kindness.
Praise as a Form of Evangelism
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry day,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD (Psalm 40:1-3).
In the recovery of an emphasis on the value of praise in recent years, we have relearned what the psalmist knew—that praise has an evangelistic impact. Worship is ultimately the goal of evangelism. Our goal is to help more and more people enjoy God and glorify Him forever, to share God's work of gathering for Himself a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, who will worship Him in heaven. But worship is also a means of evangelism. I do not believe that the lost person or seeker is capable of worshiping and coming into the presence of a holy God. But that lost person can see and hear us praising God and be brought to faith in Him. The psalmist says that when I have a new song of praise in my mouth, many will see it and be awestruck by our great God and come to trust in Him.
A believer filled with praise makes a tremendous impact on a sinner. We have a new song, the song of the redeemed, and it produces hope in a despairing heart. The psalmist says, "I was in a horrible pit. I was stuck in miry clay. I was hopeless and helpless, but the Lord heard my cry and lifted me up. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a solid place to stand." That is a picture of salvation. God in His grace stoops down to pick a sinner up out of the pit and sets him on a new, safe path. The response to that amazing unilateral act of mercy is a new song—a song of praise, a song of redemption.
The more we sing that song, and the louder we sing it, the more people will hear it. Those who are still in the pit, stuck in miry clay, will see how we were lifted out by God's love and see hope for themselves. Be filled with praise every day, because God not only is worthy of our praise but also may use your praise to draw people to Christ. Your song may lead them to open their hearts to the Savior, so that they might see Him perform His great rescue in their lives as well.
—Adapted from The Heart of the Bible, by John MacArthur (Thomas Nelson, 2005), Chapter 9, pages 121-125.
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