You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The light that God shines on us to illuminate and reveal the truth has several functions. Beyond letting us see things as they truly are, this light is also alive and working. When we talk about physical light, the purpose and end of illumination is clear. The light turns on, that which was hidden in the dark is now seen, and the light has served its function. God’s spiritual light, however, is not so simple. That initial illumination is only the beginning of a much greater process, and we must be aware of our part in it. Our participation is in our hands, and we could choose to frustrate that process. What Jesus is saying in these verses is not only a command but also a condition of receiving God’s light.
The parable of the talents in chapter 25 helps explain these verses further. When God illuminates our lives, He is entrusting us with a very valuable treasure. The expectation is not that we hold this treasure for ourselves and justify it as safe keeping. The work of God’s spiritual light does not end with our illumination but only begins there. God wants us to take this light and then use it to affect others. That light does not shine on us but should shine on him through us. The problem is that some of us choose to hold that treasure and not let it be seen. If we do that, the light will go out. We will not have the privilege of having it if we try to keep it for ourselves because it was meant to work beyond us.
We have a faith that is meant to be shared. This makes perfect sense if we remember that our place in God’s kingdom is not about the individual but about the body. We were made for community and for group function, and that is a picture of sharing. I really question whether anything I receive from God should be kept just for me. At a minimum, I should be praising him before others for everything He brings to my life so that He would be glorified. Let us make it our practice to share with others every ounce of goodness and light God brings us. Father, make us faithful to shine our light brightly for others to see and glorify You.