“Let Your Light Shine”
DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ are to shine as brilliant lights in this world, pointing fellow humans to the way that leads to an eternity of happy living. In his Sermon on the Mount, God’s Son said: “You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.”—Matt. 5:14-16.
The exemplary conduct of Christ’s disciples should make them stand out noticeably from among persons who are unacquainted with the Bible’s message. Their kindness, patience, long-suffering, love and other fine qualities should make them appear as lights in a cruel, loveless world. However, for others to come to know the reason for their laudable conduct, Christians must be proclaimers of their beliefs. That is why many witnesses of Jehovah set aside time each week to visit their neighbors with the comforting message of God’s Word. Additionally, they make good use of their opportunities to share their Scriptural knowledge with whomever they may meet while caring for the daily affairs of life.
It is not always easy for God’s servants to shine as lights. Not infrequently they become objects of ridicule and hatred. The message they proclaim—that God’s kingdom is about to crush the wicked system preparatory to bringing in the New Order—is not popular with the world. Those who prefer living a life devoid of faith in Jehovah God and his Son do not want to hear the Bible’s message. They oppose it and may even succeed in having a ban placed on the activity of God’s people. Also, the changes for the better that a Christian may have made in his life can result in his being reproached. The apostle Peter made this point, saying: “Because you do not continue running with them [worldlings] in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.”—1 Pet. 4:4.
A review of recent history shows that this has been the experience of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Happily, this has not stopped them, as a body, from continuing to act on Jesus’ words to ‘let their light shine.’ They realize that it is never a time for Christians fearfully to hide their light, as if ‘putting it under a measuring basket.’ No matter what the circumstances may be, the truth needs to shine forth in the words and actions of Jehovah’s dedicated servants.
Of course, this does not mean that a person would rashly ignore the unfavorable circumstances under which he must carry out his Christian activities. Jesus Christ admonished that his followers conduct themselves wisely in an enemy world. He said to his apostles: “Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men.” (Matt. 10:16, 17) Hence, in difficult times, caution is in order when we are looking for sincere seekers after God.
WHY BE CONCERNED?
But why should we be so concerned about letting our light shine? The Bible shows that the Creator has set a day of reckoning, or judgment, for all mankind. (Acts 17:31) For that day of judgment to result in blessings for us, we need an approved standing with him. How is such an approved standing possible? We need the kind of faith that impels us to do our utmost to help others to become and continue to be Christ’s true disciples.
Notice how the apostle Paul linked this matter of judgment with the importance of preaching that is backed by commendable conduct. He wrote: “We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile. Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we keep persuading men.”—2 Cor. 5:10, 11.
Paul recognized the unparalleled authority that Jehovah God had granted to his Son. Jesus Christ now has ‘all authority in heaven and on the earth.’ (Matt. 28:18) Regarding his judicial powers, God’s Son declared: “The Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son.” (John 5:22) Jesus Christ’s judgment will be flawless and final. He cannot be deceived by outward appearances or clever words. Prophetically it was said of him: “He will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth.” (Isa. 11:3, 4) Truly, there is sound reason for having a wholesome fear of such an eminently qualified judge who has full authority to render final decisions. Not only should we personally want to act in a way that demonstrates our faith in him as judge, but we should also want to persuade others to take the necessary steps to gain a favorable verdict from him.
Clearly, then, people of all races, nations and tribes need to know what they must do so that the fast-approaching day of reckoning will turn out for their benefit. This is nicely emphasized by the apostle Paul in these words: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?”—Rom. 10:13, 14.
Because of appreciating the importance of declaring the “good news,” many witnesses of Jehovah share in the auxiliary pioneer service, devoting at least 60 hours during a particular month to spreading Bible truth. This has led to many blessings. For example, about three years ago, there was one lone Witness in Dacca, Bangladesh. Then another Witness, accompanied by his wife, came to the city on a work contract. This married couple began zealously sharing the Bible’s message with others, and soon the number of Kingdom proclaimers increased to eight. Of this number, two regularly served as auxiliary pioneers. What resulted from this increased activity? About a year ago over 20 Bible studies were being conducted with interested persons, and many of these were attending the meetings that had been arranged.
If we truly believe that the day of reckoning is drawing ever closer, should this not reflect itself in an earnest desire to inform people about the certainty of this event? How is the knowledge that you will stand before God’s appointed Judge influencing your life? Are you making it your determination to think, speak and act in a manner that will appeal to the good conscience of your fellowmen? Do you on a regular basis set aside time to share with others the truths of God’s Word? Is your heart moving you to speak at other times also? If you are diligently striving to be like God’s Son in thought, word and action, you will indeed be living in harmony with his admonition: “Let your light shine.”
“Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth.”—Eph. 5:8, 9.