Shine as Lights!

George Everard, 1882

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." Matthew 5:16

"That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world!" Philippians 2:15

"That they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect!" Titus 2:10

Around the coast of Great Britain and Ireland are found more than 200 light-houses. They are so placed, that while ships are within ten or fifteen miles of shore one or more of them may usually be seen; so that guidance is afforded to ships that need it, and many a vessel is thereby saved from the rock and the quicksand, and brought safely into the desired haven.

It were well if Christian people in a similar way were fulfilling their office to be as lights in the world. It were well if nowhere in our country could a man's lot be cast but some earnest, devoted servant of the Lord were to be found not far distant; so that by the light of a holy example, or a word of friendly counsel, he might be warned in the hour of danger, and guided into the safe harbor of salvation by Christ.

Shine as lights in the world! It is the plain command of Christ that you should do so. Carry a bright and clear light, so that all around may see it. Do not "hide it under a bushel" of timidity, of sloth, of self-indulgence, of worldly-mindedness but hold it up aloft. Let it be like the light from the light-house, firmly resting on the solid rock beneath; so let your soul be resting on the firm foundation of a true faith in the word and work of Christ trusting only in the name and merit and mediation of God's dear Son. Hold forth the light, that numbers of life's wearied voyagers, tossed hither and thither over the dark and surging billows, may see it and be saved, and rejoice forever in the help which you have afforded them.

No subject can outweigh in importance, this matter of light-bearing. Holy, devoted, self-denying lives, springing from the principle of a living faith are the very glory of Christianity.

May the good Spirit of our God guide our thoughts and meditations! May we be determined, by God's grace, more than ever to give ourselves to the service of God, and to let our light so shine before men, that they may glorify our Father who is in Heaven.

Let it be forever imprinted on our remembrance, how greatly the holiness of Christian people concerns the glory of God and the welfare of His Church.

We Christians are representatives on earth, of a living, exalted, glorified Savior. When Christ dwelt here below, He said of Himself, "As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." He has now gone back to the Father's house to prepare our home, and to intercede on our behalf but He has left His servants to take His place, and to do His work on earth. "You are the light of the world," He declares. By a holy, consistent walk, you are to show forth to sinners around, something of the Christ you love and obey.

True, you can give comparatively but a feeble light. What is a candle compared to the noon-day sun? Still less is your light compared to that of Christ. Nevertheless it is not in vain. You may adorn the doctrine of the Gospel; you may let men see something of its mighty efficacy in raising you above selfishness and sin; you may manifest something of the fair beauty of the Savior's image.

This is that which is most needed to convince men of the truth of the Gospel. We should pray indeed that God would raise up men fitted to answer the daring and skillful assaults made upon the authority of Holy Scripture and the doctrines of Christianity. But the best books, and the most eloquent sermons are holy, loving Christians copies of Christ, spending their lives in doing good, and making even the enemies of the Gospel inquire as to the power for good which they possess.

At Tripoli, the son of a Syrian woman embraced the truth of the gospel and was baptized. But the mother was very bigoted, and refused to listen to a word he said. She could not, however, but notice how kind and dutiful he became after his conversion. This led her to consider whether or no the Bible was true; and she, too, at length believed in Christ. She said to herself, "A religion which makes my son so dutiful and kind, cannot be a bad one." She lived from that time as a true Christian, and died with a note of praise upon her lips.

A lesson here never to be forgotten! Let every believing child of unbelieving parents follow the example of this Syrian youth. There is no more likely way of bringing an unconverted father or mother to the Savior, than a constant effort in things small and great, to show to them the loving obedience and tender affection to which the Word of God so plainly calls us.

Nor is this true only in the filial relation it is so in every relationship of life. A holy life is very frequently the instrument of the conversion of those afar off. The careless wife is awakened and turned to God by the Christ-like spirit of the husband. The child is drawn heavenward by the sight of a father or mother walking steadfastly in the way of life. The servant is surprised and aroused to thought by seeing a master or mistress ruling the household in a way which she had never seen before.

In fact, a truly Christian life is a perpetual sermon to all around. A clergyman may preach two or three sermons a week to any who may be willing to come and hear but a holy life speaks to those who never set foot within the house of God. It can be preached in the house or in the street, in the workshop or in the market-place. It reaches the most heedless and indifferent, and sends many an arrow of conviction to the heart of the sinner. It awakens the slumbering Christian to more self-denial and activity, as he cannot but notice the difference between his own life and that of some zealous follower of the Lamb. It encourages young beginners by the sight of a reality in religion, and makes them more earnest in seeking to possess it.

Ah! believe it, my brother, my sister in Christ, God has put into your hand a marvelous power for good! You may be but weak in the faith you may only of late have come to the Savior; but by His grace enabling you, you may be continually sowing around you seeds of endless blessing. If you are living hourly, daily for Christ, your words and deeds, your very looks, your silence as well as your conversation, may be doing an amount of good of which you are quite unconscious. Eternity alone will reveal the good which the Lord in His mercy enables to accomplish.

But we must not forget the other side of the picture. Who shall tell the amount of harm which is done by Christians failing to live as Christ would have them?

At a post on an American lake there were two tiers of lights. On one occasion by some neglect the lower lights were not burning. This led to a mistake by the captain of a steamer, and the noble ship was wrecked in consequence.

Ah, how it teaches us a lesson! The humbler graces of a Christian life must not be neglected; the quiet home duties of every-day life must not be forgotten. Our daily walk, must prove our religion to be a great reality.

Not long ago I met a young man on a bus, with whom I entered into conversation. He readily accepted a book I offered him, and listened very attentively while I spoke a word to him about the Savior. Then he told me of the stumbling block in his way. His parents made a high profession; but he saw in his own home there was no reality about it. Their daily walk seemed to him to make it clear that it was only a pretense and a sham so he had given it all up. He wished to live a moral and upright life, but nothing would ever induce him to go back to the old paths.

I never felt more sad in my life. I tried my utmost to show him we must judge Christians by the Book and not judge the doctrines of the Gospel by the lives of Christians. I told him that a bad Englishman did not prove the laws of England were bad neither did the inconsistencies of Christians prove anything against the doctrine of the law of Christ; but it was all of no avail. Here was the stumbling block over which he fell. Had his parents followed more in the steps of the Master, it is very probable his views might have been far different.

I am sure this is not a solitary example.

When we find the children of professing Christians turning out badly, it is usually through some evil thing which has caused them to fall. When the secrets of home life are all laid bare, we shall have many a sorrowful tale of the sins of parents bringing forth bitter fruit in the lives of their children.

Ah, dear reader, be on your guard day by day, if you value the souls of those who live with you! Put no stumbling block in the way of others; keep your lamp bright and clear; live blamelessly and harmlessly in a corrupt and evil generation.

Let not your religion be a mask, or a Sunday dress which you fold up and lay by when Sunday is over, or as an article of jewelry which you wear on special occasions. Nay, let it be that which goes with you at all times and in all companies. Let it be worn close to your heart, and never laid aside even when you go to rest at night. At home or abroad, in days of trouble and in days of comfort, in the society of God's people or amidst the children of this world, keep the light ever burning. Remember your solemn responsibilities. Shine as a lamp on earth, and you shall by and by shine as a star forever and ever.

But how can this be? By what means can you, who in yourself are all darkness and evil, thus manifest the light?

"God has made his light shine in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6. Of one thing I am very sure. The light must shine in before it can shine out. Christ, the true Light, must dwell within you. He must . . .
all that is dark,
all that is of the world,
and purify all that is corrupt and debased.

It was a wonderful moment when a Divine voice was heard, "Let there be light!" and light from above streamed down upon the dark chaos of earth, and upon hill and dale upon the lofty mountain and upon the glorious ocean the light was shed. But it is a still more blessed moment, when the voice is heard within the human soul. The word is given, "Let there be light!" and forthwith the soul, wrapped in the slumber of spiritual death, awakes and behold, all things are new. The midnight darkness is past, and the light of grace has begun to shine.

There must be the light of self-knowledge. The Spirit of God reveals sin and humbles the sinner. Hitherto satisfied with a form of religion, he sees himself to be a sinner guilty of damnation. He knows that he is a law-breaker, and the curse of the law is upon him. He willingly casts aside his former self-righteous excuses, and takes the lowest place. From a broken spirit arises the cry: God be merciful to me, the sinner!

Then comes the light of pardoning mercy. Sin is revealed, that it may be completely forgiven. The soul trusts in the atoning blood, and the conscience is purged from the guilt of the past. Oh, the blessed light that shines into the soul when the free mercy of our God is manifested! Christ has become sin for me and I am righteous in Him. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

There comes moreover the light of Christ's presence and love. "Christ comes so near to me," said a young widow in her grief, "that He seems to walk by me on the stairs as I go to rest at night."

"I have two heavens," said an aged Christian to me a few months ago. "I have a Heaven here for Christ is with me on my bed of suffering; and I have a Heaven there above where He dwells."

Dear reader, has this light shone into your heart? Have you learned your sin, and believed in Jesus? Have you found out the way to His mercy-seat, and there discovered how kind and loving and forgiving He is to all who sincerely seek Him? Do you love Him, and trust His promise, and desire to know more of Him from day to day? Is your religion in any way like that of the early Christians, spoken of in 1 Peter 1:8: "Whom (that is, Christ) having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!"

Much of the religion of the present day, is very material in its character. It delights in excess of music, and flowers, and outward show. It is linked with a material altar, and ceremonies and ordinances without number. But those early Christians fixed the eye on that which was spiritual and invisible, and rejoiced with unspeakable joy in an unseen Savior. Is this your spirit?

Has the light so shone within your soul that Christ Himself is everything, and all else in comparison is nothing worth?

Be content with nothing less. Do not be satisfied with a certain amount of Christianity. You must have Christ Himself, as the life and refuge and portion of your soul. You must have Christ FOR you your Righteousness, your Advocate, your High Priest before the throne of God. You must have Christ IN you, by His Spirit dwelling in your heart by faith, and making you more and more like Himself in holiness and love. And as you begin, so you must continue. You must fix your eye steadfastly on Christ, and then draw out of His fullness grace sufficient for all your need.

Let there be no mist or veil between you and Christ; let there be no reserve in your obedience, or the least permitted evil in your life, to bring a cloud between your soul and the Savior. Watch against unbelief coming in to destroy your communion with Him. Trust Him fully; give Him your boundless, unlimited confidence. His riches are unsearchable; His power exceeding great, beyond your utmost necessity. And this power and treasury of grace are all in the hand of infinite Love and unshaken Faithfulness. Therefore you must trust and not be afraid. Your confidence shall not be disappointed.

And while you trust Him, watch against the least shadow of spiritual pride. If you have attained anything, yet there is far indwelling sin left in you. The best and holiest day in your life, has in it enough imperfection and evil utterly to condemn you! If you have advanced a few steps up the mountain-side, just look up and see its lofty peak far, far away. The glorious image of Christ is your standard, but have you reached it in a single particular? Therefore keep humble and you will be safe. Aim at the very loftiest idea of holiness in the perfect likeness of the Lord Jesus, and rejoice that by and by you will reach it. Meanwhile, let the light from above show you your innumerable defects, and let your foot rest firm and sure on the work and righteousness of Christ alone. In Him there is no condemnation even now; through Him, by and by, there will be the perfection at which we aim.

Thus let your eye be ever toward the Lord Jesus. Look to Him day by day, and very frequently through the day. Regard Him as ever being near at hand to help you in temptation or in trouble. His loving presence will exercise at all times a calming, soothing influence in your heart.

Think of His life;
think of His death;
think of His present mediation for you at God's right hand;
think of His glorious return in the coming kingdom;
think of His gracious promises;
think of His precepts given to guide and assist you;
think of His Spirit, the Comforter whom He has sent to teach and strengthen and sanctify you.

Dwell in the holy atmosphere of His presence, and you will shrink more and more from all that is evil. Just as, coming from the clear, fresh air, it is doubly painful to inhale the impure air of a close and crowded dwelling or of a sick chamber so the more we abide in the secret of Christ's presence, the more shall we turn from anything that is contrary to His mind and Spirit.

Leaving the foundation principle of holy living, a few thoughts may be added as to the practical manifestation of it in our daily walk.

Learn to act continually from principle, and not from emotions, or the impulse of the moment.

This direction covers a large expanse of a Christian's life. It will save you from many a snare, and will make your course a much more even and happy one if you follow it. Following the impulse of your own passing feelings, leads to a life as changeable as the wind.

Perhaps at one time you have heard an earnest sermon, and on the spur of the moment you speak just as a Christian should. At another time you are irritated by some annoyance, something ruffles your temper, and you react just like a child of the world.

When you are accustomed to follow mere impulse, you may be drawn aside to evil in almost any direction. You may do immense harm where in your better moments, you would long to do good. You may put out a candle, where you would desire to guard the glimmering light. You may put a stumbling block in the way of Some work for God, or discourage some weak and trembling Christian. Now this ought not to be. Therefore settle in your mind that you must not act in this spirit. Get a few great principles rooted in your mind, and never lose sight of them.

"God must be first, and man second."

"I have a daily conflict with evil, and I must be on my watch-tower."

"Better lose anything than the favor of God and the peace of my own conscience."

"Whatever I possess, I am but a steward and for all I must give account."

"I must take heed to my words."

"A word may be lightly spoken, and yet may do a world of mischief."

Endeavoring continually to follow out such principles as these, will greatly assist you in spending your life for God.

Another thought. Every Christian must be a cross-bearer.

There is no escaping this. It is as clear as any of the promises. The "any man" and "whoever" of promise are very encouraging, but they occur equally in the precept: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23. "Whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27

We must be willing to suffer for Christ's sake; we must crucify self and the flesh; we must be willing to perform unpleasant duties, and make sacrifices of things we might like to retain. Our religion must cost us something. Sloth, and ease, and self-indulgence, and a worldly spirit must be cut up by the roots.

Self might whisper, "Take things easily; stay at home and pass your evenings happily and pleasantly; give your customary shilling to such a society, and be quite content." Whereas all the while the Lord may be calling you to act very differently: "My son, my daughter, go work for Me, and gather souls for My kingdom; teach the young; gather the outcasts; visit the poor and needy, and tell them of My love; labor even to weariness in My service; give time and money for the interests of My kingdom, and great shall be your joy hereafter. Many a jewel shall you thus be privileged to win for Me."

Ah, that the Lord would give to each of His people the spirit to deny self and work for Him!

We read that the late Michael Faraday, after giving a lecture on some scientific subject before the great and the noble in the land, would go down to some of the lowest parts of the city and give an earnest loving address to some twenty or thirty of the poorest, telling them of the Savior's love.

But a few weeks ago I was told of an incident in the life of the late Rev. George Fisk. While Vicar of Darlaston he heard one night of two men who were about to fight, and a large concourse were assembled in a sort of natural amphitheater to see them; so he took his Bible and went to the place. When he had reached it he went into the middle, and said he would speak to them until the combatants arrived. Then he read and spoke to them very plainly of judgment and righteousness and the mercy of God; and when the men arrived, they sat down on the edge of the crowd to listen, and then all went to their homes in peace.

Here was the spirit of cross-bearing in a very practical shape; and very blessed would it be if Christians were to be as bold and courageous for their Master.

We must be most careful over the employment of our time. It is our greatest talent, and we must throw none of it away. Every hour, every moment must be spent as under the eye of our gracious Master.

In our toil, in our recreation, in our seasons of pain and suffering, let us still be living our life before Him; rejoicing that He is near and accepts all we suffer or do as service acceptable in His sight.

Who shall tell how much may be done for the glory of God and the good of others in the intervals of time which we are apt to regard as necessarily wasted?

We are told the gold sweepings at the mint last year amounted in value to many thousands of dollars. Our fragments of time are gold dust; and we must not throw them aside as worthless, but gather them up that none may be lost.

We must let the light shine very brightly in our own home. The nearer you come to a candle, the clearer you see the light. Home is the chief scene of temptation, at least in many cases, and it is the sphere where we have the greatest opportunity for showing what kind of person we are of. We must lay aside self-pleasing. Our aim must be to do the most good that we possibly can, to those who live with us; so we must think of their comfort and happiness as much as our own. We must not consult our own convenience and leave everything else to take its chance.

An unselfish generous spirit will be constantly on the look-out to add a few grains to another's pleasure, or to diminish a little of their load of sorrow or care.

We must learn the holy art of showing kindness and courtesy in all the affairs of everyday life. We might well multiply our gifts, though they be but as the cup of cold water, costing us but little, but often bringing much gratification to the one remembered.

We must strive to be quite content with God's appointing, wherever our lot may be cast. High or low, as our position may be, let us say to ourselves, "God has placed me here, and here will I endeavor to do His will. By meekness and gentleness, by patient industry and perseverance, by congenial love and cheerfulness, by forbearance with the evil, by watchful consistency in my walk I may glorify my Father in Heaven as much as if I were preaching the Gospel or ruling a kingdom."

Very especially let us beware of touchiness. When through burdensome duties, infirmity of body, the distraction of many coming and going, we become irritable and speak short and sharp, we are losing altogether for the time, the mind of Christ.

We must put our foot on temper, and keep it down at all hazards. When we have failed in this respect, we must recollect ourselves, and let Christ regain the throne. Never let an angry feeling live through your next season of prayer. If you have been unable to get rid of it before, leave every trace of it behind when you rise from your knees. Fellowship with God cannot continue side by side with a ruffled and angry spirit. "Be angry and do not sin do not let the sun go down upon your anger."

Nor must you forget that it is your privilege to bear a personal testimony for Christ. You must not only live for Him, but speak for Him, and not be ashamed to confess Him in the world. Let the word of Christ dwell so richly within you as to fill you with joy and peace in Him, and then tell others of His love for perishing sinners. In our land God is raising up witnesses for Christ in every rank of society, and you must be one of them. You need not be clever, or be able to give a sermon or an address; but in the simplest way you may tell a fellow-sinner of His grace, if only He is dwelling by His Spirit in your heart. Do not wait until you are stronger in faith, but begin at once. Do what you can. Have Christ by your side; believe that He is near to help you, and you cannot fail to be useful.

Read a chapter to a sick one; speak gently for Christ to the little ones; plead with the wanderer that he would come back to the Lord and seek His face. In this way, and in any other that is possible, hold forth the Word of Life, that souls may believe and be saved forever through Him.

But I must draw to a close. I have but touched on a few of the various directions in which the Christian must endeavor to show forth the life of Christ. But I would entreat you, dear reader, to rise above the common standard, and strive, by God's grace, to live a very holy, devoted, self-denying life. I entreat you by the call of God, who bids you be as holy as He is holy. I entreat you by the dying agonies by the wounds of the Son of God, who gave Himself for you to redeem you unto Himself as one of a peculiar people, zealous of good works. I entreat you, as you value your own soul, follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. I entreat you, as you value the souls of others, that you so walk that your life may prove no stumbling block, but a means of help to them on their way to glory. I entreat you, for the honor of the Gospel which you profess to believe, to live worthy of its high and lofty privileges, and that you may thus commend it to the attention of those around you.

Very especially would I beseech all young Christians all who have lately learned to love the Savior to set before you the life of Christ as your pattern. Walk as He walked; live as He lived; keep ever under the shelter of His blood as the one ground of your confidence; and, doing this, expect to receive day by day a large supply of His grace. His Spirit, the Comforter, dwells in you. He shall raise you above yourself, above the dominion of evil, above the power of the world, above the unbelief of your own heart, until He has made you fit for His presence above.

And forget not that Christ will soon appear. The sands of time are running out very quickly; the people of God are being gathered home, one by one. Dangers foretold are manifestly visible among us. The Lord is at hand. We ought to be constantly looking for His glorious appearing, and looking diligently, that He may find us at our appointed place in His vineyard. Oh, that we might hourly rejoice in the prospect before us, if we are His! May He quicken our hearts to do so; and may all we possess be laid at His footstool!

    "Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and them move
At the impulse of Your love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every power as You shall choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own;
It shall be Your royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Your feet its treasure store.
Take my self and I will be
Ever, only, All for Thee."
   Frances R. Havergal