Over a decade ago, in a youth musical concert, our pastor discovered that the gentleman he had hired to play the saxophone was nowhere in sight.
Reeling with disappointment, he enquired if any of us knew how to play the instrument. I was startled to see my friend raise her hand, and I wondered if she had understood the question.
She timidly walked up the stage, and when the music began, she effortlessly created a sophisticated harmony with the sax.
She was a member of our youth group, but she had never disclosed her love for music, let alone her prowess in playing the sax. Now that she was making use of her skill, everyone was benefiting.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mathew 5:14-16).
In the passage above, Jesus reminds his disciples that they are the salt and light of the world. As the light, Jesus observes that it's abnormal for people to light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, such a light is put on a lampstand so that it can give light to all in the house.
This begs the question, is your light affecting the people around you? Do people well up with gratitude and praise to God whenever they take a peek at your life?
Does your life inspire anyone towards godliness? Do you share the good news of salvation, or have you kept the good tidings to yourself? Here are five ways in which believers put their lamps under baskets.
1. When We Are Not Good Stewards of Our Gifts and Talents
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).
By His manifold grace, God has bestowed on each of us various gifts and talents. Our gifts are meant to edify the church (1 Corinthians 14:26) and should bring glory to God. God does not want us to sit on our gifts. He wants us to exercise them.
In the parable of the talents, the man who had received one talent did not put it into use. Instead, he hid it in the ground and returned it to the master without any profit. Zilch.
His master was enraged and stripped him of the talent and gave it to the man who had made good use of his five talents. The unprofitable servant was then cast into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mathew 25:14-30).
The master dealt a heavy punishment to the lazy servant. We, too, need to be good stewards of the gifts, talents, and resources that God has entrusted to us. Our gifts and talents are not meant to lie idle and fester. God gave them to us so that we can put them to use and bring Him glory.
“Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Mathew 24:46-47).
2. When We Do Not Produce Good Works
Jesus pointed out that as our light shines, men should see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. That means that our lives must be accompanied by good works.
People should be able to differentiate believers from non-believers by observing their works. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul states that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.
Paul also urges Titus to show himself as a pattern of good works (Titus 2:7). Good works must accompany those who believe. But what exactly are these good works? You may ask.
The basis of our good works is our love for God and love for our neighbors. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind. The second greatest is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
When we love God, we will obey His word and do the things that He commands us. We will show mercy, forgive, honor our parents, esteem others more highly than ourselves, pray for others, etc. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will be patient, kind, trusting, humble and selfless.
James challenged the church that if any among them was naked and hungry, wishing them well without meeting their needs was an act in futility.
Our faith must be accompanied by good works, for as the body without the spirit is dead, so is faith without works (James 2:18-26).
And although we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), good works should accompany our Faith in Christ.
3. When We Give into Fear
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Oftentimes we don't exercise our gifts due to fear. The world can be extremely intimidating, making us shrink back. We may fear what people will think of us. Paul preempted this problem and warned Timothy against caving into fear.
Paul had already established that Timothy had a gift. He encouraged him to stir it up so that the gift would bring glory to God. If the gift remained unused, it would profit no one.
Paul then reminds Timothy that God has not endowed believers with a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind.
Believers are to walk in power, not fear, because God has promised to be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9). He has promised to strengthen us and uphold us with His righteous right hand.
The scriptures remind us that the fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25). When an animal is ensnared, it cannot move forward or backward.
It makes no progress and is at the mercy of the hunter. In the same way, fear of man makes us not exploit our potential. Our light may be on, but we cover it under a basket due to fear.
4. When We Don't Share the Good News of Salvation
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mathew 28:19-20).
Before His ascension, Jesus discharged the Great Commission to His disciples. They were not to keep the Good News to themselves. He asked them to make disciples of all nations. They were to spread the light that He had ignited in them.
When we don't share the message of salvation with our friends, colleagues, and family members, we are covering up our light. Jesus remarked that the harvest was plentiful, but the workers were few (Matthew 9:37).
Are you among those who have heeded the call to share the Gospel of Christ? Our feet should be feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).
5. When We Don't Grow to Attain Spiritual Maturity
Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food (Hebrews 5:12).
Just like babies grow with each passing day, believers, too, should grow and move on to spiritual maturity. Peter urged the church to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Paul remarked that when he was a child, he talked, thought, and reasoned like a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52), and he expects us to do the same. A believer who remains spiritually immature is covering their lamp under a basket.
For further reading:
Why Did God Say, 'Let There Be Light'?
What Is the Power of God’s Light Over Darkness?
How Will Light Shine on All Your Ways?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/TG23
Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at [email protected]