I find it very easy to simply glide over a well-known Bible passage, but the Lord had other plans. He applied this verse to my own life, in a way I know I’ve been needing for a long time.
…Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:15-16 (ESV)
Every couple months, I’ll be minding my own business when all of a sudden—BOOM! Quickly I disconnect my computer and heave a sigh: the electric transformer just blew a fuse and it will take hours if not a whole day to get the electricity up and running again. The sun sets in all its splendor and night creeps across the horizon. One by one, my mom lights the candles. Before you know it, everyone huddles around a halo of warm light, or those who venture into the inky blackness arm themselves with trusty flashlights. What a ridiculous notion to cloak a source of light!
Yet, that’s just what I’m doing.
If I am the lamp, the Holy Spirit is the flame within. Every single time I choose to do my will and not His, I’m weaving that basket. Soon, those outside won’t even notice the light: the brambles will be too thick.
Just this week, I caught myself kicking dirt onto the Fire—and consciously. Not wanting to begin the homework piled in front of me, I sought out a distraction: I found it. Oh so willingly, a novel I had finished lay on the table a couple inches away. It wouldn’t take long to simply skim over a couple parts, now would it? I snatched the book and flipped pages until I found those delectable sections—which just happened to be the two lusty scenes disguised under a Christian façade. As I began lusty scene two, my mind editorialized, “I know this is wrong, but then I’ll stop in a couple minutes and get to work. It’s of no consequence.” Wait, what? I looked up from my page and into myself: yes, I had the gall to willfully and consciously disobey God. I slammed the book closed and got to work.
This is just one example of many I have from my own life. Sometimes, I ask myself, “Isn’t the Spirit in you? Why can’t I see Him?” Then I notice that He’s there—struggling to not dwindle into nothing—a flame flying half-mast. Indeed, how could it survive if I keep feeding the flesh and famishing the Spirit? Yes, I read my Bible most every morning, but throughout the day I find myself wandering into bypaths off the straight and narrow. That’s like lighting a match and then dousing it with water!
Shinning isn’t about me, but it is all about God—it’s for Him and it’s to point others to Him. Radiating light is the result of sincerely declaring, “…not my will, but yours, be done, [Oh Father]” (Luke 22:42). Glowing requires nailing the flesh to the cross (Romans 6:6). In fact, I’m not the one shinning at all if the light’s true: I am merely the window through which the sun is seen.
Hack down the thicket. Disclose the flame. Feed it. And only then can the Holy Spirit set the world ablaze.