The Parable of a Lamp on a Stand
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house." Matthew 5:14-15
Reading Matthew 5:14-15 used to stress me out. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” How can we with all our mistakes, misgivings, and failures be “the light of the world?” How could God in all his wisdom choose to use us to reveal Jesus, the only hope of eternal salvation, to a lost and dying world?
As I grow in my knowledge of God’s heart, I grow in the revelation of his desire to use me. Passages like Matthew 5:14-15 used to focus my attention on my own sin and darkness rather than God’s grace and love. But faithfully in his love, he guides my thoughts to what matters: the overwhelming reality of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of the God who created me. Today, let’s allow the Spirit and the word to transform the way we view ourselves and how God in his infinite wisdom would use us to change the world.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” At salvation your identity changed. You are now “created in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” You are a new creation not by your own doing, but by the powerful finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. At salvation your sins were wiped away, cast off as far as the east is from the west. Such was the transformation that took place in your heart at salvation that you could be filled with God himself. Jesus says in John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” God himself “dwells with you” and through salvation now lives inside you.
Passages like the parable of the lamp on a stand used to stress me out because I didn’t understand what God wanted to reveal through me to the world. I used to think God wanted to reveal perfection in me, that I had to act perfectly to demonstrate Christ. What I didn’t realize is that the greatest revelation I could give a broken and needy world is that God, through the immeasurable depth of His love, meets me in my brokenness and continually makes me whole. I realized that God, only by his grace, is taking what was lost, weak, selfish, and lonely and is filling me with unimaginable love and security through restored relationship with him. God doesn’t want you to reveal perfection. He wants to reveal the fact that in your imperfection he has loved you from the beginning with an everlasting love.
Because you are weak and in need of God, you are the absolute best person to lead others to Jesus. If you act like you have everything together, as if nothing is wrong, then those distant from God will have no reason to believe God desires relationship with them. But in revealing your imperfection, in being honest and real with those around you, you will offer hope to a world that has none. You will reveal the core of the gospel: that God has incredible works prepared for those who simply come to him in need and cry out for his help. In your imperfection you are a perfect example of Jesus’ love that comes only by grace.
God desires to shine the light of his love through you today in powerful ways. He longs to reveal to others how deeply he has loved you in his grace. He has incredible plans in store for you if you will simply be real with a world that desperately needs relationship with their Creator. Have the courage to be yourself and to be honest and vulnerable. Honesty is all your heavenly Father asks of you. In your honesty, God will reveal a greater love than this world has ever known. In the reality of who you are, God will shine forth hope, guiding those who are lost to the safe shores of restored relationship with him. May you find peace in the fact that God longs to use you exactly as you are. May you find purpose in the works he has set before you to do. And may you find joy in the revelation of God’s immeasurable love poured out on you through his grace.
1. Meditate on the depth of God’s love for you.In your sin and need of him he continually shows you grace, gives you his presence, and offers you joy for your mourning.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11
2. Now ask the Spirit to reveal God’s desire to use you today. Allow God to shift the way you see yourself. Allow him to ignite in you a passion to see those who are distant from God come to the revelation of his grace and love for them.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
3. Ask God to fill you with the grace to be courageous and honest. Ask for the strength to be real and vulnerable with others.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
One of the most transformative parts of living in relationship with our heavenly Father is the freedom from having to act around others. You are fully loved, liked, and enjoyed just as you are. So great was God’s desire for relationship with you that he sent His only Son to die for you. There is a new peace available to you as you live in the freedom to be fully yourself. Rest in the fact that the Creator of the universe loves and likes you. You have no reason to act. May you find security today as the love of your heavenly Father lays a sure foundation for you to live honestly and courageously.
Extended Reading: Psalm 30
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