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What does it look like to “let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16)?

let your light shine

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Of course, it is not technically our light that should shine before others. It is the light of Christ, entrusted to believers as light-bearers (cf. John 1:8). In other words, we do not produce the light within us. God does. And through our good works, people may glorify the One who gives that light.

One of the ways to let our light shine before others is to show compassion to others. Jesus expressed deep compassion for all people, regardless of their ethnic background, social status, gender, or personal beliefs (Matthew 9:36; 15:32; Mark 6:34). As Christians, we should follow His example by showing compassion and kindness to everyone.

Another way to let our light shine before others is to practice humility (Philippians 2:1–11). Christians are called to be humble in all things, knowing that it is only through the grace of God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Humility also means the willingness to confess our sins before God and others (Luke 15:21; James 5:16). In doing so, we demonstrate our receptivity to correction and guidance (Proverbs 15:32).

Generosity is another means of letting our light shine before others. Christians are called to be generous with their money, time, resources, and love (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:16). After all, everything that we have belongs to God (Deuteronomy 10:14). So, we should share our God-given blessings with those in need and give without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:30).

Forgiveness, too, is a means of letting our light shine before others. Jesus taught that we should forgive others as we have been forgiven (Matthew 18:15–20; cf. Ephesians 4:32). Thus, we should seek reconciliation with those who have wronged us—and with those whom we have wronged—to promote peace and unity (cf. Ephesians 2:14).

There are many ways to let our light shine before others. We can volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, donate money to a charity, or be kind and compassionate to someone in need. We can also lend an ear to a friend who is going through a tough time and offer words of encouragement, or we can simply smile and say, “Hello,” to a stranger on the street (cf. Hebrews 13:2).

Perhaps the best way to let our light shine before others is to share the gospel, the “good news,” with others. The good news is that God redeems sinners through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). If we believe in the person and work of Christ (who He is and what He did), then we are saved from eternal condemnation. We should not keep this message to ourselves; good news is meant to be shared, and we should make it visible for everyone to see (Matthew 28:19).

The ultimate purpose of letting our light shine before others is not to draw attention to ourselves or to promote our own interests; rather, it is about living in such a way that others will glorify our Father in heaven. Of course, this is not an easy task. It can be difficult to maintain a spirit of compassion, humility, generosity, and forgiveness in a world that is often characterized by hatred, anger, and division. We may even be met with resistance and opposition (Matthew 10:16; John 15:18). But we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit within us, and He empowers and guides us to reflect the glory of God.

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What does it look like to “let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16)?
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This page last updated: May 10, 2023