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Matthew 5:14-16


Intro: Here in The Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus uses two powerful metaphors to describe His people. He calls us both salt and light. Both of these substances are valuable and both are useful. However, both are vastly different in the way they approach their respective functions. For instance: Salt is hidden, light is obvious. Salt works secretly, while light works openly. Salt works from within, light from without. Salt speaks of the indirect influence of the gospel, while light pictures its direct communication. Salt is largely negative. It can retard corruption, but it cannot change corruption into incorruption. Light is more positive. It not only reveals what is wrong and false but helps produce what is righteous and true.

When Jesus called us Salt and Light, He was telling us that we were left in this world to influence it for the glory of God. We are to be salt to help retard the corruption in this world and we are to be light to help dispel the confusion we find all around us. Both salt and light are miracles. Salt is composed of chloride and sodium. Both of these are highly explosive elements, yet God has combined them in such a manner that they are stable, edible and valuable. Light is a miracle. Have you ever read a definition of light? Here is how Webster’s Dictionary defines light:


1 a : something that makes vision possible b : the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual receptors c : an electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range including infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and X rays and traveling in a vacuum with a speed of about 186,281 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second; specifically : the part of this range that is visible to the human eye.[1]


Thanks a lot Mr. Webster! While that sounds like a bunch of scientific gobbledygook, it also sounds like a miracle to me! By the way, the redeemed child of God is a miracle as well!

Both salt and light have the ability to alter their world. So does the Christian! Perhaps that is why Jesus used these common, everyday images to describe His people and the influence they are to have in the world.

While both of these images speak to what our role should be in this world, I would like to zero in on the image of God’s children as light in this world. I want to take as my title that little song the children sing and preach on the thought: This Little Light Of Mine. I want to show you that God has something to say about when, where and how we are to let that light shine for Him. I want to point out a few truths from this passage as I try to preach about This Little Light Of Mine.



(Ill. Light is an amazing thing. While it does not have physical properties, it can have a profound effect on physical objects. Light is basically a wave of energy that can be seen by the naked eye. Let’s look at a few ways light affects our world.)

A. Light Conquers Darkness Wherever there is the least bit of light, darkness is forced to flee. You can be in the darkest place imaginable and just a tiny match, when lit, has the power to drive away all that black, oppressive darkness.


(Note: The same is true in the spiritual realm. The Bible says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple, Psalm 119:130. The Psalmist also said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Psalm 119:105. When the light enters, darkness flees! By the way, a godly Christian can bring rays of light into the darkest of situations!


(Ill. Thank God for light! It can save us from making the kind of mistakes we would only make in darkness. Back in the days before electricity, a tightfisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things, I always went in the dark.

Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look at what you got!”)


B. Light Colors Drabness Did you know that color does not really exist? Color is really just a trick of the eye. You see, light is usually perceived as being white, but it is in fact made up of energy in varying wavelengths. These wavelengths comprise all the colors of the spectrum. When light hits an object, that light will either be absorbed or reflected. Now, some objects also scatter light while others refract light. But, for our study, I want to focus on the ideas of light being absorbed or reflected.

If an object absorbs all the light that hits it, the object will appear black. If an object reflects all the light that hits it, the object will appear white. If, for instance, an object absorbs every wavelength except for blue, that object will appear to be the color blue. If it absorbs every wavelength in the light but red, it will appear red, and so one. Get the picture? Without light, our world would be dark and it would be drab. There would be no color!


(Note: Jesus said that His people were “the light of the world.” Not only should our presence put darkness to flight, it should also cause the world to be a more colorful and beautiful place. There is nothing like meeting a Christian who is reflecting all the light of the Savior. That person is a ray of light in a dark place. That person is a thing of beauty in a drab world. This is what the Bible teaches us that every believer ought to be, Phil. 1:27!)


C. Light Changes Deadness The ancient Greeks, in their mythology, told of a goddess who visited earth unseen but whose presence was always known by the blessings she left behind in her pathway. Trees burned by forest fires sprouted new leaves, and violets sprang up in her footprints. As she passed a stagnant pool its water became fresh, and parched fields turned green as she walked through them. Hills and valleys blossomed with new life and beauty wherever she went.[2]

The ancient Greeks were looking at the beauty of spring time after the deadness of winter and they were giving their gods credit for the beauty and life they saw around them. We know that spring breaks forth because God designed it to do so. As the earth moves closer in its orbit to the sun the light that reaches our planet is able to bring life out of the deadness! On a smaller scale, a dying plant can often be rejuvenated by exposing it to the warm, life-giving rays of the sun.


(Note: Now, we know that it was the light of the Gospel of grace that brought life into our dead souls. Our hearts were warmed by the truth of the Word of God and we were delivered from death and darkness by His light.

As we let our lights shine in a dark and dead world the same phenomenon takes place. God uses the light of our witness and testimony to warm the dead sinner’s heart and to draw them to Jesus for salvation. Our light, which is really His light being reflected by us, is a means of bringing the life of Heaven to the dead ones on earth.)


D. Light Conditions Dreariness How many times have you seen days of gloomy, dreary weather suddenly replaced with the gleaming light of the sun? How often have we felt the cold, chilling fingers of autumn instantly lose their grip as the sun brightened the sky overhead? We have all seen dreary days immediately transformed by the appearance of light.


(Note: This world can be a dreary place. I am not referring to the weather, but to the spiritual climate. However dark, dank and dreary a day may be, when I am exposed to the light of the people of God I am instantly brightened! There may be a chill in my own soul, but a few minutes around a Brother or Sister who is shining with the Light of Jesus in their hearts, can cause the chill to thaw, and can help me to be a little warmer. Thank God for the redeemed children of God! They are like a warm ray of light in a dreary place!)


(Ill. All of these are good reasons for letting our lights shine!)



(Ill. Since this light is so precious and so powerful, where and how are we to let it be seen?)

A. There Is The Light Of An Institution Jesus refers to a city set on a hill. A city is not a single light, but is a collection of many lights. The cities in that day were often constructed out of white limestone. Imagine a limestone city sitting on top of a hill. The sun rises and reflects off that city. It could be seen for miles in the day time. It could not be hidden! When night falls, the moon would also light that city. Even if there was no moon to shine upon it, the lights of the city and in the windows of the houses could be seen for many miles around. It could not be hidden at night, either.


(Note: The image of “a city on a hill speaks of us letting our lights shine as a community of faith. It speaks of the influence of the church in the world around us. As a church we let our light shine by our standards, our style of worship and by the things we stand for.

You can tell most everything you need to know about a church by the preaching they have; the Bible they use; the songs they sing and the activities they engage in. Like a city set on a hill we cannot be hidden! We either declare our stand for Jesus and we testify to His saving grace and power; or we take our stand with the world. It cannot be both ways!

Calvary Baptist Church is to be a city set on a hill here in Lenoir. We are to be a vocal, visible, vibrant witness for the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the gathering darkness of this town. God did not establish this church so that we could do our own thing and drift away from Him like so many other churches have. He established this church to be a light for Him in the darkness of this place. Are we fulfilling our mission?)


B. There Is The Light Of An Individual Then, Jesus speaks of the candle. The word translated “candle refers to the ancient oil lamps. These were usually clay containers filled with olive oil in which was placed a piece of twisted flax to serve as a wick. Since most houses were windowless, an oil lamp was necessary for the occupants to be able to see. But, no one lit a lamp and then hid it under a basket. To do so would have been foolish! The lamp was lit so that the people in the house could receive the light and see other objects and people in the room.


(Note: This verse is speaking about the power of the individual believer’s witness. Just as a church has a testimony, so do you! Jesus saved us to be a light for Him. As He shines His light through us, those around us who are in darkness are helped to see their way to God.

So many people think they have fulfilled their calling to be a witness when they head off to the church house. Friend, when you come in here, it is to worship Him and to be equipped to go out there. When you step through those back doors you are entering the mission field! We are to go out from this place into a dark, dead, deceived and doomed world and we are to tell them about a Savior Who loves them and will save them if they will come to Him by faith. That is our mandate, Mark 16:15. That is our mission, Acts 1:8. Are you, as an individual, fulfilling God’s call to be a light for Him?

Did you notice that Jesus spoke of some people who hid their candle under a bushel? People hide their light under all kinds of bushels. Some hide theirs under the bushel of fear, Ill. Joseph of Arimethaea, John 19:38. ( Ill. A young man who became a Christian went off to a summer lumber camp to work. His pastor became concerned about him because he knew it would be a difficult situation to be a Christian, to be a light for the Lord. So after the summer was over and the boy returned the pastor said, “Son, I want you to know I knew you'd just been saved and I knew it was going to be difficult on you, so I prayed for you while you were working this summer at the lumber camp; I was praying that they wouldn't make it too hard on you. And the young man said, “Oh no, Preacher, I didn't have it hard at the lumber camp. He said, You know, in fact, Preacher, none of them ever found out I was a Christian.)

Others are hiding their light under the bushel of apathy. They don’t seem to care that a lost world is going to Hell around them. What a tragic shape for a Christian to find themselves in! We need to have the heart the Rich Man in Hell had regarding the souls of his five brothers, Luke 16:19-31. We ought to be consumed with the idea that people are dying without Jesus everyday! They are perishing and we hold in our hands that antidote! If we really cared, we would tell them about Him!

Don’t hide your light under a bushel! When you do one of two things is going to happen. Either the basket will extinguish the candle, or the candle will consume the bushel! When Jesus is really in your life, you will have a difficult time hiding His light.

Ill. A Hindu trader in India once asked a missionary, "What do you put on your face to make it shine?" With surprise the man of God answered, "I don’t put anything on it!" His questioner began to lose patience and said emphatically, "Yes, you do! All of you who believe in Jesus seem to have it. I’ve seen it in the towns of Agra and Surat, and even in the city of Bombay." Suddenly the Christian understood, and his face glowed even more as he said, "Now I know what you mean, and I will tell you the secret. It’s not something we put on from the outside but something that comes from within. It’s the reflection of the light of God in our hearts. But, when He isn’t, you will have no trouble hiding your own light under any bushel you may choose.

By the way, In Luke 8:16, Jesus adds this phrase, “or, putteth it under a bed. The bushel speaks of the world of labor; the bed speaks of the world of leisure. Jesus seems to be saying that some people are too busy to let their lights shine and others are too lazy. I wonder if either of those speaks to your heart!)



(Ill. Jesus tells us of the two-fold purpose of this light He has placed within our hearts.)

A. It Is A Witness To The Lost When lost people see the light of Jesus shining through the lives of the redeemed ones, they will take notice. Now, we all have works, but Jesus here mentioned “good works.” What are good works? Good works are works motivated by love, carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit, and performed for the glory of God. In other words, good works are works produced in us and through us by Jesus Christ Himself, Ill. Paul, Gal. 2:20. As I yield to Jesus and He lives His life through me, I prove to the world that my profession of faith is real, James 2:18, and that Jesus Christ really does possess the power to transform a broken life into a thing of immense beauty, Eph. 2:1-10!

B. It Is A Witness To The Lord There is no greater witness than a born again believer, reflecting the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no more powerful testimony than a life which displays the proof of His presence through the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23. Ill. This truth is seen in the witness of the Gadarene Demoniac – Mark 5:1-20; and in the witness of the woman at the well, John 4:39. As a lost world sees the difference Jesus makes in His children God is honored and glorified.

Just as light does not exist to call attention to itself, but to draw attention to the things it illuminates; our witness does not magnify what we have done. Our testimony is about a great god Who loved us and saved us when we deserved damnation instead! Our purpose is not to make people look at what we do and say, “Man, what a great Christian! No! We want them to see us and say, “They must serve a great God! I’d like to know Him too!


Conc: Ill. Woodrow Wilson told the story of being in a barbershop one time. “I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me I was aware I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. D. L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular affect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.[3]

That is the kind of God desires us all to be! If you were to be very honest today, would you have to confess that your light wasn’t as bright as it should be? Maybe your heart is like those old kerosene lamps we used as a child. They would get soot on the inside of the glass the light just couldn’t shine through like it was supposed to. But, when we cleaned up the inside, the light came through again.

Has God spoken to you about your own testimony? Are you a light for Jesus? Could you be doing better? Are you even saved? Do you have people on your heart that you want to bring to the Lord in prayer tonight? Whatever the need, respond to Him and let Him have His perfect way in your life!

What are you going to do with your light? Here’s what I intend to do with mine:


This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.


Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.


Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine

Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine

Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.


Shine all over Lenoir, I'm gonna let it shine

Shine all over Lenoir, I'm gonna let it shine

Shine all over Lenoir, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.


Let it shine til Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine til Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine til Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.


[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=light

[2] Title: MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7 Edition: First; Copyright: Copyright 1985 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.

[3] IBID

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