Let Your Light Shine

A friend’s picture of this light fixture caught my attention. The design reminds me of our lives: we are the socket, our relationships are the encircling rings, and God’s Spirit living inside us is the light. Before the Spirit indwells us we are dark, but He causes us to shine. No matter how many rings we have around us, the light can always reach them.

Physical light serves many purposes, including illuminating our surroundings and protecting us from harm by revealing danger. In the Bible, light is used as a spiritual metaphor. Spiritual light depicts salvation from our sins (Acts 26:18). Walking in the light means doing the right thing or following God’s instructions (Ephesians 5:8-9). The Bible is referred to as a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Jesus calls Himself the Light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus also tells His followers:

You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, GW)

Far more life embraces the call to be light for the world. We are instructed to let our light — the aspects of our character that are like Jesus — shine for all to see. We should not hide our goodness, forgiveness, kindness, love, joy, peace, patience, and other Christ-like characteristics. He wants us to stand out and be noticed, just like a city on a hill. This brings Him glory and brings us far more life.

A Bible verse I read this week challenges us to let our light shine. I appreciate the directness of this translation:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  (Romans 12:9, NLT)

Shining our light is not just doing the right thing, it is having the right mindset and attitude. It is genuinely loving others, including those who are different from us or hard to love. It starts with seeing their God-given value and continues by putting concern for their well-being into action. This love can take many forms: volunteering for an agency or event that benefits others; giving money to a person or organization in need; giving hands-on help to someone; speaking up on someone’s behalf or in their defense when they are victimized, overlooked, or oppressed; listening to someone who others overlook; praying with and for someone in a hard place; and more. Far more life loves others with our attitudes and actions.

Shining our light also joins God in hating what is wrong while attaching ourselves to what is good. Satan wants us to get stuck on one side or the other and forget that God wants us to do both. We can get stuck hating the darkness and forget that doing good brings light to the situation. We may be tempted to voice our hate for sin, but not actively support the righteous alternative. We may be quick to point out the darkness in others’ lives, but fail to share God’s light so they can find a way out. We might hate people or blame a whole group for the evil of a few people rather than seeing the situation or people’s hearts as God does. We may seek revenge rather than truth, justice, and forgiveness.

We can also get stuck ignoring the darkness and selfishly basking in God’s light. We may be tempted to deny or minimize the depravity of sin and instead focus on puffing up our Bible knowledge. We may shy away from hard situations and respond with Bible verses that only address the surface. We may refuse to get involved in fighting evil, always insisting others are more equipped or prepared. Far more life seeks to hate wrong while holding tightly to the good that overcomes it.

A few verses later, Paul shares another practical — and challenging — idea that restates one of Jesus’ commands:

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. (Romans 12:14, NLT)

…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44, NASB)

This command is the opposite of our human response, so it must be the brightest light we can shine on injustice! God is glorified when we bless, love, and pray for those who hate us or intentionally harm us. Our enemies can be anyone who opposes the light shining out of us. We bless them by praying for them to experience God’s love and be drawn to His light. There may be practical ways we can show them love, too, but prayer is our most available and powerful option for obeying God in this. Far more life trusts God to use His light for good, even when it shines on our enemies.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5, NLTSE)

John wrote this about Jesus coming to earth, but the same truth applies to the light shining from us. Our light — God’s presence in our hearts — is secure. No evil, sin, enemy, persecutor, storm or trial or difficulty can extinguish His light in us. Thank you, God, that Your light overcomes any darkness we face and reveals far more life to those around us.

Sisters,
How has God’s light changed your life?
In what situations are you tempted to hide His light?
Is there a person or group that you only pretend to love? What do you need to overcome to really love them?
How do you practically hate wrong while holding tightly to what is good?
Walk confidently in far more life this week as you remember that God’s light in you is secure and eternal!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: Shonda Millender

Shine Your Mirror

Far more life requires an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. An unrealistic view of Him or ourselves robs us of the richness He offers. From time to time it is good to stop and reflect on who we are in Christ, how God viewed us before we accepted Christ as our Savior, and what He has promised His children. We can think of it as “shining our spiritual mirror” to remove the impurities — wrong perceptions, false beliefs, faulty thoughts — that have clouded our view. A freshly shined spiritual mirror offers far more life — a clearer image of God and who we are in Christ.

Ephesians is a great “mirror shining” book. The first three chapters remind us of our identity in Christ. The last three chapters tell us how to put that truth into practice. Some friends and I spent last week reading Ephesians, one chapter a day, and sharing our thoughts. We had wonderful virtual fellowship as we shined our mirrors. You can do the same! Recruit some friends to join you on this journey or share your comments here to connect with others pursuing far more life.

Here are the truths about myself and God from those chapters that I want to wholeheartedly embrace and live out:

  • I am one of God’s holy people, a saint. (1:1)
  • I am faithful in Christ Jesus. (1:1)
  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (1:2)
  • God chose me! Before the creation of the world, he chose me. (1:4)
  • I am holy and blameless before Him. (1:4)
  • He predestined me for adoption into His family. (1:5)
  • He has freely given me His glorious grace. (1:6)
  • I have been redeemed, my sins forgiven, by Jesus’ blood. (1:7)
  • He lavished the riches of His grace on me. (1:7-8)
  • He shared the mystery of His will with me. (1:9)
  • I am marked with the Holy Spirit; He is a seal — a promise — guaranteeing my inheritance, a deposit on my future. He will stay with me until I am with God in Heaven. (1:11-14)
  • God wants me to know Him. (1:17)
  • I have been called to hope. (1:18)
  • He has a rich inheritance for me. (1:18)
  • He shows incomparably great power to me. (1:19)
  • I am part of the body of Christ, His church. (1:23)
  • I was dead because of my sin, an object of God’s wrath. But God made me alive with Christ! (2:1-5)
  • God raised me up and seated me with Christ in the heavenly realms. (2:6)
  • He will continue showing me grace and kindness through the ages to come. (2:7)
  • I have been given the gift of salvation through God’s grace. (2:8)
  • I am God’s workmanship, His masterpiece. (2:10)
  • I was created to do the good works that God prepared for me in advance. (2:10)
  • I have been brought near to God through Christ’s blood. (2:13)
  • Jesus is my peace, He unites me with others who love Him. (2:14, 16)
  • I am reconciled with God through the cross of Christ. (2:16)
  • I have access to my Father, God, through Christ. (2:18)
  • I used to be an alien and a stranger, but now I am a member of God’s household, His family. (2:19)
  • I am part of a bigger group of Jews and Gentiles who have become a dwelling place for God’s Spirit. (2:22)
  • I can approach God with freedom, boldness, and confidence. (3:12)
  • His Spirit gives me power in my inner being. (3:16)
  • Christ lives in my heart. (3:17)
  • I have power to grasp God’s love, to understand how wide and long and high and deep it is, even though that love surpasses knowledge. (3:17-19)
  • I can be filled completely with God. (3:19)
  • God’s power, which is more than I can ask or imagine, is at work within me. (3:20)

So much rich truth in these chapters! Remembering all those truths would enable us to always walk in far more life with a sparkling clean mirror. But our limited hearts and minds may need time to absorb them one at a time and shine our mirrors bit by bit.

I attended a conference recently that helped me shine one corner of my spiritual mirror. I was challenged to think of the theme verse in a whole new way:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

To bring this verse to life, we were each given a postcard with an abstract picture on it. Each postcard was unique, with different colors and patterns, just as each person was unique, with different skills, interests, and spiritual gifts. But when we put all the cards together, they created a literal masterpiece, an image of a famous painting. The speaker pointed out that each person who follows Christ — from the first disciples recorded in the gospels to the last saints remaining alive when Christ returns — has a unique role to play in building God’s kingdom. But everyone needs to add their part in order for the masterpiece to be complete. We are each important, but we are also part of God’s bigger and more important masterpiece: fulfilling His purpose and bringing Him the glory He deserves. It was a wonderful reminder to value ourselves as God does, not too highly and not too lowly, and to find the work He has planned for us.

We experience far more life when our mirrors are shined so we can see both our immense value to God and our role in His bigger purpose. Both are required to see ourselves and God clearly. Both are necessary for far more life.

Sisters,
Does your “spiritual mirror” need to be shined? Is it showing God and you accurately?
Read Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 this week — alone or with friends — and list the truths you see about God and yourself. (You are welcome to comment here.)
Which truth do you want to focus on absorbing right now? Spend time reading it in different translations, looking up related verses, memorizing it, working through your doubts about it — whatever you need to do to imprint it clearly in your mind.
Enjoy far more life as you see yourself and God through a cleaner spiritual mirror!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso