In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
We all know the little cartoons of a character having an “ah-ha” moment. The light bulb appears. It is evidence that critical thinking has taken place and the character finally “gets it.” I am sure we all enjoy those moments of achievement when we have, after laborious moments of brainstorming, gotten it. In grade school even into high school, I didn’t like to think critically over anything. It seemed to be too much effort. Even now when I play games on my phone or tablet, if it takes too much thought, I’m OUT!
Unfortunately, I see this trend in my 7- year-old son starting to develop. He will read a book and not be able to tell me anything about it when he’s finished. I try to explain to him that it’s important to think about what you are reading as you go instead of just skimming over words. We have a special workbook in our homeschool curriculum devoted to reading comprehension. Some of the activities include questions that ask you to think critically. When I have read over these pages, I am thrown back to my school days when I didn’t want to think through it, I wanted to just put an answer down and be done.
I think this happens in our day to day lives as well.
As Americans we’ve saturated our lives with so many “things” to do: work, gym, shopping, sports, etc. When we’ve checked everything off our list, at the end of the day the last thing we want to do is think deeply about anything. So what do we do? We “veg out.” We tune out the world and tune into television or whatever social media outlet is available. What does this have to do with letting our light shine?
What if we put a little bit more effort into praying, thinking, and serving after our checklist is complete?
Ask God, “How can I serve You today in my spare time?”
I think it is important for us to get creative in our outreach these days. Pray and wait for the Lord to give you opportunities to show His love to others. By simply making it a matter of prayer, we put the task at the forefront of our mind. This enables us to be sensitive to where the Spirit leads us.
A few years ago I was challenged to keep a certain amount of money in my purse designated as “God’s pocket money.” The idea is to always have cash handy for when you feel led to give to someone in need. For instance: a waiter/waitress who is obviously in a bad place or he/she just happened to go above and beyond in service to you…give a big tip. Someone in church or even an unchurched friend expresses a need to pay a bill they cannot afford…offer to pay it for them.
My husband and I were the recipients of this “divine pocket money” at one time. We were given 30 days notice by our landlord to vacate our rental home because she wanted to move back in. This immediate need for moving costs put us in a scary place. I expressed our concern with my Bible study group and someone dropped some cash into my bag without me knowing. I found it later that day. It was a great encouragement to us and a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness in our time of need.
I have a friend who takes frequent trips into downtown Atlanta. Driving into the city it is easy to spot the homeless and those less fortunate. Since she doesn’t feel it safe to stop and converse alone with them, she keeps a special bag under the front seat of her car. The bag contains: toothbrush/paste, comb, hand-sanitizer, deodorant, a pack of crackers, a bottle of water, a gift card to Chick-fil-a and a witnessing track. When she stops at a red light and sees someone holding a sign expressing need, she hands him the bag. What a gift! When she gets home, she prepares another bag to be ready for the next opportunity to let her light shine.
Another easy and creative example of service is to donate items to your local food bank or co-op. The special thing about co-ops is that they accept more than food items. A few years ago, I teamed with a small group of ladies and bought lots of underwear. At the co-op, the volunteers open these packages and customers are allowed to take one new pair of underwear each time they visit. Something so simple, we all take for granted. However, there are many people in our city who cannot afford these bare necessities. We called ourselves the “underwear brigade.”
Consider your neighbors or members of your church who are shut-ins. How can you show Jesus’ love to them in a tangible way? Sometimes our lives are so full of other things that it takes some serious critical thinking to find a way to make an impact.
When we let our light shine, lives are changed.
Our light is Jesus. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Where His light shines, no darkness can remain. The Lord places in our hearts an indescribable joy that helps us remember it is truly better to give than to receive. As you pray and ask the Lord to show you whom to help, don’t be surprised when the light bulb appears over your head.
Ecclesiastes 2:13: “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.”