- Text: Mt. 5:16.
- Influence is something we have far more of than we realize.
- In a wicked world, Christians are to have their "conduct honorable among the Gentiles" (1 Pt. 2:12).
- We are to "shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15).
- What are some practical ways we can let our light shine?
I. By Being Thankful
- Not only is ingratitude a sin; it is at the root of most other sins -- the first step that leads away from God - Rom. 1:21.
- What if God took back every blessing for which we are not properly thankful?
- Unexpressed gratitude is not much better than ingratitude, yet we often make excuses. Cf. 1 Jn. 3:18.
- Expressing gratitude can mean: (1) expressing our gratitude to God for His blessings, (2) expressing our gratitude to others for their kindness, and (3) expressing to others our gratitude for God's blessings - Mk. 5:19. Cf. Psa. 105:1,2.
- We can set a good example even by the simple act of saying thanks before meals in the presence of others - Ac. 27:35.
- Like Daniel, we need to let our light shine by being openly grateful to our God for His grace - Dan. 6:10.
II. By Caring and Sharing
- Jesus "went about doing good" (Ac. 10:38) -- we can't be Christ-like without caring and sharing - Gal. 6:2,9,10.
- "Benevolence" means "good will," but it involves more than sentiment -- faith alone will not save us - Jas. 2:14-17.
- We are surrounded by hurting and desperate souls, many of whom don't know that anyone cares. Cf. Psa. 142:4.
- Do we care for all those whom God cares about? Are we agents through whom people learn that God cares for them?
- All the other help we can give will be of little significance if people lose their souls (Mt. 16:26) -- but often we have to earn the right to be heard by caring. (People don't care how much we know until they know how much we care.)
- We need to experience the truth of the Lord's saying: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac. 20:35).
III. By Being Honest
- Nowhere do we have a greater opportunity to shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15) than in practicing honesty.
- Our minds -- and hence our characters -- are to be filled with what is "true" (alethes = real, actual) and (in the KJV) "honest" (semnos = noble, honorable) - Phil. 4:8.
- Honesty is a potent force for good -- but it must be unconditional honesty, even when "no one is looking."
- We need to be "men of truth" (Exo. 18:21), people of unquestioned integrity, honor, and sincerity. Cf. 1 Pt. 2:12; 3:16.
- "Honest" (KJV) often translates kalos (beautiful, comely) - Mt. 5:16. Cf. Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21.
- Honesty is one of the most obvious ways in which we are to "adorn the gospel" - Tit. 2:10.
IV. By Being a Peacemaker
- Jesus is the "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6) -- His followers would be "peacemakers" (Mt. 5:9).
- The greatest peace made possible by the gospel is the peace of man with God - Rom. 5:1.
- But the gospel also makes possible the peace of a man within himself and with others - Phil. 4:6,7; Jas. 3:13-18.
- We are commanded to "pursue peace" (Hb. 12:14) and to aspire to "lead a quiet and peaceable life" (1 Tim. 2:2). Cf. Prov. 16:7; Rom. 12:18.
- Basically, it is the wisdom imparted by godliness that tells us when to yield and enables us to live peacefully with others - Prov. 3:17; Jas. 3:17,18.
- When it comes to conflict among other individuals with whom we have some influence, are we peacemakers or troublemakers? Bridge-builders or bridge-destroyers?
- If the gospel is the source of peace, there is no peacemaking work that can take the place of personal evangelism.
V. By Overcoming Temptation
- Temptation continues to become an ever more powerful daily experience.
- None of us is exempt from temptation or immune to its power - 1 Cor. 10:12. Cf. Gal. 6:1.
- But we can resist temptation and overcome it - Jas. 4:7,8.
- Like Daniel, we must "purpose" (decide, determine, commit) not to defile ourselves - e.g. Dan. 1:8. Cf. Job 31:1.
- In helping us with temptation, as with all else, God is a faithful God - 1 Cor. 10:13. Cf. 1 Jn. 1:9.
- We owe it to those around us to demonstrate that it is possible to overcome temptation.
- There is a sense in which the Christian needs to open up and courageously "be who he is."
- We must let our true identity and character shine through for all to see and be influenced by - Mt. 5:13-16.
- We need to guard against being ashamed of who we are and what we are - Mt. 5:15,16. Cf. 2 Tim. 1:7,8.
- Our influence for good can be greater than we think.
- May we let our light shine!
Gary Henry - WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com