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How many times have we heard it preached? You are the light of the world! What does that even mean? How am I the light? Well, today we’re going to look at what this means and how to fulfill this mandate. Let’s examine the actual scripture, Matthew 5:14-16:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Keep in mind that the scripture is not describing a glory hog. You know, the countless videos of people doing something “generous” for the homeless. Listen, if you want to do something, do it. The only time that you should be publicizing it, is if you want others to get involved in your initiative, otherwise, your intentions are questionable. Only you know in your heart why you did it, out of self-indulgent pride or you genuinely wanted to care for another person. God knows our true intentions. We’ll all be rewarded according to the intentions of our hearts. That’s why the Bible states in Matthew 6:1-4

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

In a nutshell, don’t showboat your deeds. You’re probably saying, hang on… How am I supposed to be a light to the world if no one knows?


The biggest epidemic facing humanity is pretendia. This disease has plagued mankind throughout the ages, but the preceding generations didn’t have social media. We now have tools to pretend on an epic scale. Let’s be truly honest with ourselves. Life isn’t perfect, there’s always something looming in the back of our mind. Some concern, some hurt but scroll through your Facebook feed and you’ll find that everyone is “living the life”, life’s awesome. You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re the only one going through hell. Ladies and gentlemen, I have some bad news. The situation is dire, so brace yourself. We live in a fake world. Shocked?

I Know Right
We live in a fake world….

Here’s the thing, what the world truly needs is more genuine, down to earth people. Not more pretenders. That is your light! In a world full of judgmental, holier-than-thou narcissists, people are yearning for real. Real is a scarce commodity. Genuine sounds like a tall order. Our basic instinct is to protect ourselves. We’re afraid that if we’re real, people would see us as weak or we would be ridiculed by others. This thought is understandable but not entirely true. Airing your dirty laundry is frowned upon and for good reason. However, there’s a stark contrast between airing your dirty laundry and letting your light shine. The former is embarrassing but the latter is inspiring. A mistake becomes a testimony and a lesson when the purpose of sharing the story is to teach another. To prevent them from making the same mistake.

How we learn

Surely, we can just tell people about all the good that we’ve done and all the times when we made the right decisions. Wouldn’t that be effective? Nope.

It’s easier for us to learn from the failures of others than their successes. In a study by Wendy Joung and her colleagues, they took two groups of firefighters and trained one group with examples of mistakes that were made by firefighters and the resulting consequences. The other group was trained with examples of good decisions that firefighters made in the field. The research found that the firefighters that learned from the mistakes of others showed better judgement. (If you found this interesting, check out “Yes – 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive”)

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The mistakes of others get etched in our mind. This is a powerful tool that allows our testimonies to stick in the minds of people. When you’re able to share your mistakes with others and how God helped you overcome them, they remember the lesson far better, than you pretending to be a wonderful holy, holy, bless me slowly, Bible Thumper.

Everyone makes mistakes


Everyone makes mistakes. It’s normal to want to hide our mistakes to save face with those around us. It’s human nature. When you admit your flaws and share your mistakes so that you can help others, it’s rare and instead of ridicule, the opposite is true. We look up to selfless people. People that are willing to put their heads on the block to help us. Self-sacrifice is leadership in action. It shows character, something that money cannot buy.

Once, I heard a speaker mention that he was sitting in a banquet with many high-profile people. Millionaires, politicians, you name it. The crème de la crème of society but when Nelson Mandela walked into the room, it didn’t matter how much money you have or who you think you are. All eyes were on him. Nelson Mandela’s character, his selflessness, his willingness to sacrifice for his people rendered everyone else obsolete in that room. Now that’s something worth striving for. That is what a beacon of light looks like.

Dodging Bullets

But that’s scary, being held in such a high regard. Thankfully, it’s a process which takes many years. Here’s a benefit to being selfless. Let’s suppose that there’s someone that had a bad experience with Nelson Mandela or perhaps Mother Teresa. It’s possible, we’re human. We get grumpy at times. What if that person went out and said, “You know, I met Mother Teresa… She’s actually very rude and not a nice person.” Would you believe it? Would you be skeptical? Of course, because the story doesn’t fit the person’s character. When you’re known to put the needs of others before yourself, when you share your mistakes and shortcomings for the benefit of others, when your character speaks for itself, people are not easily swayed by heresy. To put it another way, let’s steal a quote from the matrix:

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.

That’s the power of character born out of selflessness. People admire you and will not accept negative information willingly unless you really screwed up. Where everything about you comes into question. That sort of downfall can only be initiated by you. By you being fake in the first place. All the other stray bullets from random haters can’t touch a truly selfless person.

Let’s wrap this up. Develop your character based on Godly principles, share your mistakes so you can help others, be selfless and your life will be a light unto the world. Makes sense?

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2 thoughts on “Light of the world: Practical Application of Scripture

  1. I like your wrap up because it does make sense and very practical in how. Christians need that!

    I liked it when you said –“The mistakes of others get etched in our mind. This is a powerful tool that allows our testimonies to stick in the minds of people. When you’re able to share your mistakes with others and how God helped you overcome them, they remember the lesson far better, than you pretending to be a wonderful holy, holy, bless me slowly, Bible Thumper.” – because its true but its funny how we often want to hide our mistakes from others. crazy.

    I reckon we to be light to rock the boat a bit as well and sometimes expose the darkness for what it is. Which is why keeping in step with the spirit is so important right?

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you. Yes, we have to get practical with God’s Word. Due to the time that it was written, some of the concepts need to be explained in the context of how we live today. Absolutely, we have to have an intimate relation with God and be lead by the Spirit.

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