Jesus immediately followed the Beatitudes, His explanation of Christ-like character, with four metaphors that show us how to live out that character. He taught: “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 lamp stand, 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.” Matthew 5:13-16.
This metaphor has a number of interpretations and applications for our lives. Jesus points out that when a candle is lighted in a home, it is not placed under a basket but on a candlestick. The purpose of being a light is to give light. Our witness for Christ, our story about how He saved us and is working in our lives, must be clear and visible, not hidden.
Candles burn themselves down as they produce light. The only way a candle could save or preserve itself would be for the candle to extinguish its light. Jesus is essentially teaching: “Before you became one of My disciples you were like an unlighted candle. Now I have lighted up your life and every time I light a candle, I put it somewhere for a reason.”
At the end of the three years He spent with them, Jesus said to His apostles, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last” (John 15:16). The Greek word that is translated “appointed” means “to be strategically placed.” This is a Greek word found only three times in the Bible. Literally, Jesus was saying, “You are not an accident. I have deliberately chosen you and gave you a specific place for you to be fruitful for Me.”
Have you ever seen a turtle on a fence post? Anytime you see a turtle on a fence post, there is one thing you know for sure about that turtle - he did not get there by himself; somebody had to put him there because turtles cannot climb a fence post! Every true follower of Christ should feel like a turtle on a fence post. We should all look around, realize where we have been strategically placed in this world, and, thinking of a turtle on a fence post, we should exclaim, “It was not my careful planning and work that got me here. Jesus put me here and wants me shine for Him.”
Where has God placed you? How are you pointing to God’s goodness?
Take a moment to pray, thanking God for the opportunities to shine and bear fruit. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage and words you need to glorify Him.
This post is adapted from a lesson of the Mini Bible College, an online study of the whole Bible. We highly recommend their audio resources and written materials, available in many languages, to anyone who wants a stronger understanding of the Bible.