Can you shine your light?
Let your light shine
When I was in primary school, I learned and sung this well-known song in Dutch: ‘So let your light shine in everything you do, so that people say: G-d is good’. This is what Yeshua says in Matthew 5:16: “This is how you should shine light to the people so that they see your good deeds and pay tribute to your Daddy in heaven. In English we sing, ‘this little light of mine’ which you can find in YouTube.
Being a light
In that chapter, Matthew 5, Yeshua gives a lot of hints of what you should do if you know the Lord. “So”, at the start of verse 16, points to “being salty,” “being a city on a mountain,” “being a lamp”. Being a lamp. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a tea cap or under a bucket. That makes no sense, you can just as easily turn the lamp off. Yes, because a lamp that does not help you costs electricity and after a while you even have to buy a new light bulb. And if it is an oil lamp or a candlelight, the light will even go out because under the tea cap or bucket it will not receive oxygen to burn. I guess you prefer to spend your pocket money on something else!
So not under the tea hat, but what then? What does that mean to let your light shine? Where exactly is the light ball in people? For the people, which people? And should you let your light shine in everything you do? And is it really true that people will say that our G-d is a good G-d? What if they don’t? Or worse, if they start bullying you? Or exclude you. If you don’t belong anywhere anymore?
Let’s start with the first question, what does it mean to shine your light? Did you know that your skin glows? Just a little bit. You can’t even see it with the naked eye, only with an infrared camera, for example. But if you can’t see it, what’s the point? What would that mean in Matthew 5? There is another way for people to shine. You’ve probably seen that before. Your little brother who blows out the candles on his birthday cake, or grandma who unwraps a present, or yourself because you managed to jump from the swing for the first time! Being so happy for something you receive, or something that works out well now, that it makes you shine.
When we fail sometimes
And then there are those things that you think: I probably will never reach that! How can I? I do not get it? It’s so complicated, I don’t see the solution (yet). Adonai knows you. Of course, he made you! So, he knows you from head to toe, he knows every fiber you have. He knows what you can do and what you still have to practice. He has given you talent, which makes you good at something after good practice. And if it succeeds, then of course you will shine. Because you are happy. And perhaps also because you are proud. Of yourself. Of course!
For the people
Okay so far you had a nice party. And maybe your parents enjoyed it too. But what do those people have to do with it? How should you shine for the people? Hm, good question! Do you think that if you succeed and you shine so much that it is also a bit contagious for the people around you? What do you think of this: you with Adonai, your Daddy in heaven, with his Wisdom, you can understand things, do things, achieve things that the people around you are really astonished, like “huh, how is that possible?” So that you don’t bother anymore about the boy who teases you in the classroom, so that you can pass that exam, can remain calm and friendly if someone else is mean, understand that it is good to give attention to some things and not to other things. Sometimes things are different than people might think. Things look different after everyone has talked about it, oftentimes behind someone’s back. It is very clever if you can make that work.
Most people who do good things have a helping hand: a handy grandfather, a smart computer, a video on YouTube, or a manual. We also have such a manual for life. The Torah is our handbook. And it is a very special manual. It does not work like all other manuals on earth, like: “for problem B, see page 856 and voilà there is the solution! No, the Torah is a manual with which you have to tune. As you use the tune knob on an old transistor radio to find the correct frequency for a radio channel. By just reading all the stories every year, we “tune” as it were with Adonai. And so he “tells” what is right to do. “Just” through the stories of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Pinhas and the spies. You can really read your story there.
The light of the world
Not only do we have the Torah, Yeshua says of himself: I am the light of the world! If you follow Him you will never walk in the dark again. You then have light that gives life (John 8, 12). But if you make mistakes, you walk in the dark, as it were. Your loving Daddy in heaven came to earth to make sure people never walk in the dark again. He gave his life for the mistakes we make. Now we have to make sure we don’t go in the dark anymore. By choosing the right, admitting it honestly, and asking forgiveness when we do it wrong. Then we are busy following Yeshua, then we can be really light. That is another song: if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, so then we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, His Son, purifies us from all sin (Im nithalech ba’or, Zimrat Ha’Aretz 102)
A beautiful diligently burning candle
Choose your battles wisely and certainly do not throw pearls in front of the swine. These are expressions that make you careful not to give up your money, your light or your precious self just like that. Not just to show yourself anywhere, anytime. But when you show the right things at the right time, even the biggest bully has to admit (in his heart) that you are very brave. So, I think shining light means having courage, choosing the right things, not giving up. It has nothing to do with preaching or converting people. Just do the right things in your life. While you walk, on your path of life. Accept what comes your way. Go through it, don’t avoid it. What a beautiful diligently burning candle that will be.