What does it mean to let your light shine?

As youngsters in Sunday School, we learned a song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” and we would raise an upstretched finger, pretending it was a candle.  When we sang a verse about Satan blowing it out, or another about hiding it under bushel (basket), we would incorporate motions that reinforced the notion that we were going to let our light shine.  It was a fun song that I have taught to my children and grandchildren, but it has taken much of my life to truly understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:14 to 16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The light is not the good deeds you do, no is it drawing attention to your actions so as to be seen as a “good Christian.” People do good deeds all the time, but aren’t necessarily Christians. And the light isn’t so much like a candle as it is a light bulb where the most important thing is the power that surges through the line and excites some electrons producing light. When the power is switched off, the bulb won’t provide light. In the same way, when a Christian is not “plugged into” God’s power, their light is not going to shine.

So, letting your light shine is all about being connected to the source of the greatest power in the universe. That connection come through prayer, reading God’s word—the Bible—and regularly interacting with other Christians who are able to encourage you in your daily life. Being connected to the source of all wisdom and power will help you live a life that others will see as positive and attractive—a life that will cause them to ask about the source of your “light” and will give you an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus and glorify his and your father in heaven.