“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.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
So much of life in our western culture is focused on success. We are constantly trying to define what success is, and striving for and analyzing the results of our activity. Did you meet your quota at work? How many goals has your son scored this year? What is your grade point average? It has even infiltrated our homes and our ministries ~ how many children in your ministry? Parents are assessing the time they spend with their kids by valuing quality time over quantity of time. Seriously, there is something wrong with our society when we start to justify our absence in our kids’ lives with this notion of “quality time”, whatever that means anyway.
Computers and the internet have fed into this obsession with numbers and how we use them to define our worth and success. When we put ourselves “out there” on social networking sites, our stats are now there for public consumption. Teens base some of their self-worth on how many “friends” they have on Facebook, or how many “likes” they have on their tenth status update today. Businessmen rate their success by the revenue they generate and how many hits they are getting on their website. And don’t even get me started on Youtube, where people do the stupidest things trying to make a name for themselves by getting enough hits on their video to have it considered as gone viral. Since when is something being viral a good thing?
I wish I could say that Christian writers have been able to steer clear of this trend in our culture, but actually, our passion for our Lord and the vulnerability of sharing our deepest thoughts, may just leave us in a position where we want all the more to define success, so we can know for certain that we are making an impact on our world for the God we love so dearly. Blogging has opened up a whole new publishing world, and along with it, a whole new way for writers to define their success. How many people are following “my” blog? How many comments did it receive today? How many people read the most recent post? Satan has gotten a whole new arsenal with all these numbers. How easy it is for him to keep us so focused on the numbers and trying to define our own success, so that we can easily be drawn away from God and led into a pit of discouragement, even at the very moment that God is using our words to change someone’s life!
Nowhere in the Bible does God define success for us. He knows who we are. He knew that if He set a bar for us to achieve, half of us would wear ourselves right down to the bone trying be accepted in His eyes, and the other half of us would give up without even trying. God gave us an example in His Son, and defines our success as becoming more like Him. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells us who we are to be: “You are the Light of the world”. How do we determine our success, then, at being this light? Jesus tells us how: “Let your light shine so that others will glorify your Father in heaven.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I am to be light. I am to shine. If I am light and I am shining, then I am a success. The funny thing is, even as Christians, we are not always content just to shine ~ why just be a candle on a lampstand when you can be a passion-filled wildfire for the Lord? Why be a flashlight when you could be floodlight?
Ladies, this is not God’s way. He asks us to shine His light into the world. He asks us to put our light on a stand so that it can give light to everyone in the house. A light does not concern itself with how its light is being used, and what is being done in the house or the business where it is providing light. In the same way, we should not concern ourselves with how the words that the Lord has given us to shine into this world are used. Our God is in control. Our God can use our words powerfully even if the only person to see them is us. The God who uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise is not at all concerned with our definitions of success. Proverbs 20:27 says that “the lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.” And what is the Lord searching for? He is searching for a woman who loves Him with all her heart, with all her soul, and with all her mind, and who is willing to let her life go, and just be a light in the darkness of this world.
“Let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16) and just “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)