THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
"You are the light of the world." Matt. 5:14
I would now pass to some of the titles which describe my RELATIONSHIPS TO THE WORLD around me. If I am a Christian, I am a member of the Lord's chosen and spiritual flock. My citizenship is in heaven; but I am not in heaven. My record is on high, but my dwelling and my warfare are on the earth. I am not encompassed with angels, but with men. I am in the world--a world of sin. I have very important relationships to this world--relationships which I must faithfully sustain, and the duties of which I must fulfill. All of my duty is IN the world. Much of my duty is TO the world. Much of my usefulness and obligation are there. My Lord requires me to be active and useful here for him. What he has imposed, I would earnestly endeavor to fulfill. In the title now before me, he describes one very important relationship in which his wisdom and goodness have placed me. I am to be, in my appointed measure and place--a light to the world--to guide them to the truth--to lead them to a knowledge of Christ--to persuade them to seek and obey God.
1. Then my own MIND ought to be clearly taught in the truth. Thus only can I teach others. To be the instructor of my fellow men in the great interest of eternal life, is an immense responsibility. The Savior is himself the only real light of the world. I can give light to others, only as I get it from him. There I must find all that it is important for me to know and to teach. He gives me light in his word. There his own Spirit teaches me the things of God--the glories of redemption. How inestimable are its contents! How ardently ought I to study it! How earnestly to prize it! It is in reality of incalculable worth. It ought ever so to appear to me. If there were but one copy--lent to me only for a season--how I should value it! But I am to receive it as God's express personal gift to me, and to esteem it as a special Divine message to my own soul. What it tells to me I am sent to tell to others also. And it becomes of vast importance that I should gain clear views of truth--a mind thoroughly settled in the faith, that I may speak to all clearly, definitely, and without fear or doubt, upon the great salvation there proclaimed.
2. Then my CHARACTER must be holy, under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Men are to be guided by my example, as well as taught by my instructions. What they see in me is as important and effective than what they hear. My light must shine in my habitual conduct in life. In the various personal relationships in which I stand, my influence must be seen and felt. This is a most important responsibility. Holy in all manner of living! Oh that such might be a description of my daily life! What prayerfulness, what self-control, what meekness, and watchfulness, and love become him who is set up a light to men! I cannot be hidden. I do not wish to be hidden. I must be seen and known. I only desire that Christ may be seen and known in me. Let my daily walk be a safe and faithful guide to those who are out of the way, that I may say to them, "Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." How many I may help, or how many I may oppose and injure, I cannot tell. I would have my light always shine.
3. Then my light ought to be STEADY and uniform. Better is a small light that is steady, than a brilliant one that is fitful. A candle in the night is better than the lightning. My station may not be high, nor my field large; but my influence must be everywhere the same. I am what I am always--at home and abroad the same. There is no vacation in the duties and responsibilities of religion. The Christian is the same at all seasons, and in all places. This alone can manifest the reality of my spirit--the integrity of my mind and heart. Let me be like the "shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day." The humblest servant of Jesus may do much good by his appointment and blessing. If I am uniformly on his side, the time will come that I shall derive the full benefit and influence of such a course. How important is a steadfast and abiding character to a servant of Christ!
4. Then my light ought to be PERSEVERING, and hold out to the end. Scenes, and duties, and relationships, change; but the principles of religion are always the same, and always manifest their power in the same fruits. What piety is in youth and in maturity, it must be in old age. The same love to Christ, the same submission to his will, the same desire to serve him, the same effort to be like him--ought to mark me to the end of life. Ah, how beautiful is this consistency of Christian character--this constant light of true religion! How effectual is it for our own comfort! How powerful in our usefulness to others! Let me strive earnestly to possess and to maintain it. My condition may much change, my circumstances exceedingly alter, my relationships to the world become very different. But my devotion to my Master's work may increase to the very end. Thus my example may be a blessing after I am gone, and my light continue to shine in the earth when I am no longer in it myself.
5. Thus must a light to the world be SET APART, to be of any value. Thus must I appear to be made useful. Marked by a clear knowledge of the truth--by faithful holiness of character--by uniform and steady example and influence--by abiding and persevering devotion to God. I much desire to have these my constant attributes, that I may truly shine to the glory of Him who called me out of darkness to his marvelous light. The Holy Spirit can give me all these. I would seek them there.
Lord, if you do this wish infuse,
A vessel fitted for your use,
Into your hands receiveľ
Work in me both to will and do,
To show men how believers true,
And real Christians live.