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.
Back in those days I was not saved and did not even have a clue what salvation was. I had my own moral compass and a way of judging good people from bad, but I was unaware that I even knew any Christians. She was one of our leads on the floor, and I interacted with her a lot because I was new and had a ton of questions. My first impression of her was that she was prim and proper, one of those people who never cursed a day in her life. As I continued working with her, I appreciated how patient and kind she was. I would not have said this then, but she truly was the embodiment of a sweet spirit. What I did not know at the time was that she was a Christian. Looking back, I did not have to be told that detail to know something was different about her. The light of Christ I did not yet know still caught my attention.
There certainly is a difference between hearing that someone follows Christ and seeing that they do. Now, there is nothing wrong with sharing our faith and letting the world know who our Lord is. We can put bumper stickers on our cars and hang inspirational plaques at our desks, and all of that is fine. What we must remember, however, is that our faith is more than words. In order for us to shine our light, we must let Jesus come through in all ways. This means that the words we say, the things we do, the attitude and demeanor we carry, all of these things must be influenced by Christ. If we make a habit of yielding to this, we might not need to say a word at all for others to notice that there is something different and good about us; people are drawn to the whole package. If we speak like a Christian but behave like the world in every other way, we are doing a great disservice to this light of ours which should be growing and not diminishing.
We have no testimony if we have no interaction with the world. The way that we reach them is to engage them, and we must yield to the Spirit leading those interactions. The regular habit of yielding to the Spirit results in his light shining brighter and more evidently. Sometimes the people who see the greatest testimony in us are the ones sitting on the sidelines just watching or listening without our knowing. That is why our Christ-like character cannot be something we simply turn on and off. There is no reason to hide the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in us. In fact, this passage tells us that hiding that light is an impossibility. The Spirit wants to reach others by shining through us. That cannot happen unless we allow him to change us in all ways and lead the way we live before the world. Father, teach us to live as your Son lived, having the light of your Spirit shine through us in every way it can.