“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16). I have been inspired recently with the thought of a candle or a fire. There are so many characteristics of a fire, which most of us take for granted and seldom even think about.
First of all, when we light a candle, the fire gives off light. What would our lives be like without light? The darker the room, the brighter it seems to shine. I have often wondered, “How much light is my life giving off to the dark world around us?” Can my brothers and sisters see a light shining from within my heart? Does it shine forth the light of Jesus? Does it shine with the light of God’s love? Can I be humble enough to let my light shine brightly, when the world around me seems so dark (a city that is set on a hill)?
Let’s analyze this thought a little bit. A city shines with much light. There are not just one or two lights, but millions of lights. If all we can see is one light that shines too brightly, we wish it to be removed, because it hurts our eyes. I love to see the lights of a city from a distance, but I have often been more inspired with the lights of a city in a valley. From high on the hillside, a person can see all the many different lights shining and twinkling in the darkness. But I believe the thought of this verse is that a city that is set on a hill can be seen from far away. If our lives shine like a city on a hill, those who are in the darkest valley may see it and come to it. But if my light shines brighter than anyone else’s, will it be a drawing to those around me? I believe we need to shine with a radiance that blends in unity with our dear brothers and sisters. This takes true humility and being sincerely honest with oneself. We are all human, and we all make mistakes.
Fire gives off heat. Depending on the fuel that is feeding the fire, a fire can have a wide range of temperature. Some fires produce nice warmth, and some fires produce extreme heat. We can all relate to the nice feeling of warming up by the fire. But most of us realize the danger of getting burned. I have often been impressed when I’ve been with someone whose nature is to be on the quieter side. Many times the spirit I have felt from that person has felt good. It felt warm. But yet that person did not have to say much. Too much of the time, I tend to be foolish. I tend to say too much, or I take what is said too far. It seems at that point that my fire is too hot. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t radiate with God’s love. Then I must be willing to back up and humble myself and correct my mistake. It is only through God’s true love and grace that I can have true warmth in my heart, which feels right to those around me.
Fire spreads. It can spread quickly or slowly, depending on the type of material being consumed. Only God can prepare the hearts of men to receive the fire of His holiness. We can only be ready to share it willingly and let it spread wherever He wills. This means that no matter where we are, we must always be on fire for Him. I often look back on my life and wonder why this has always seemed so hard. Has my fire not been hot enough to spread beyond its own coals? Could it be that I was too ashamed? How many times could I have made a difference if I would have tried? “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
Fire is a companion. If I am ever alone and have an option to choose one thing, I believe I would choose a fire. I can sit and watch the flames of a fire for a long time and feel quite contented (a good companion). As Christians, we need to be like that fire of God’s love that shines through the night, and as the fire that warms the heart of men and spreads to all mankind. The fire of companionship allows a friend to feel confident enough to share the burden of his heart. How about the fire that even our enemies can see? “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Rom. 12:20).
We know that a fire can be extremely useful. God has used fire many times throughout history. He spoke to Moses through a bush burning in the desert. He answered Elijah’s prayer on Mt. Carmel by fire from heaven. Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a fire so hot that the soldiers fell over dead from the heat. Yet the three Hebrew men were completely unharmed. God completely destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone.
Fire will always leave ashes. It doesn’t matter if the fire has been big or small. You can always see the signs of where a fire has recently burned. It matters not how bright or how hot it may have once been. Sometimes we tend to look upon the ashes of our fires and worry over them. We wonder if we said the right thing or if we came across right or if our fire was bright enough or warm enough. I believe God’s will is to remove these ashes (He commanded Aaron and his sons to carry the ashes of the burnt offering outside the camp). Then we can continue to feed the fire with the material God gives us.
Let us also remember that Satan is trying to trip us, to cause us to lose the candle that we carry. If our fire dies out, God can remove the candlestick from us, and our light will cease to shine.
In closing, I am especially impressed with Revelation 22:5: “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Could it be that when we all get to heaven and receive our crown of glory, we will all shine with the radiance of God’s glory?
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 110, No. 15, July 25, 2012