In our part of the world, Christmas lights are showing up everywhere!
House roofs, front yards, street lights, store fronts, shopping malls and more, all decorated for this special season. There are a few places around here that go absolutely crazy, with thousands and thousands of lights decorating different scenes all around their property. It’s the perfect time of year to read Luke 11!
“No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light” (Luke 11:33-36 NLT).
It would be ridiculous to put up thousands of Christmas lights everywhere, and then cover them with a huge tarp so no one could see them. What a waste of time and energy! Those lights are meant to be seen.
The same is true for the radiance of Christ, the Light of the World.
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life'” (John 8:12).
When we have the Light within us, it should be shining out for everyone to see!
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:8-9).
What does it mean to “live as people of light?”
It’s pretty simple, really. As God molds us into the image of Christ, we submit and obey.
Simple, but simple does not mean easy. Letting go of our selfish ways can be quite the struggle, but once we give control over to our Good Father, we realize what true freedom can be!
What does this look like?
We have a few hints in Luke 11. In verses 37-54, Jesus is eating dinner at the home of a Pharisee, and basically tears into him and his cohorts the whole time. The Pharisees were proud of how well they followed the laws and customs handed down to them, but they had the wrong motives. It was as if they were having a contest to see who could act the most religious. But Jesus cut straight to the heart.
“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things“ (Luke 11:39-42).
So, we are to be generous with those in need and do other “important things.” What might those important things be? Matthew gives a little more insight in his narration of events:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspect of the law–justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things“ (Matthew 23:23).
Tithing is an important principle that I do hope you are following by supporting your local church! But here Jesus lists a few even more important things: justice, mercy, and faith.
These were not new ideas. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law would have been well-versed in the following Scriptures, but the connection between knowing and doing had broken down somewhere. Head knowledge had not reached the heart, and they were stuck in self-promotion.
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows” (Isaiah 1:17).
“This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!” (Jeremiah 22:3).
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
“No, O people,the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other” (Zechariah 7:9).
All of our religiosity counts for nothing if our heart isn’t right. If we are acting in order to receive acclaim now, everyone will know it later! You may be able to fool people now, but one day the truth will be evident to all.
“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all” (Luke 8:17).
On the flip side, if our heart is right, it will affect our decisions and our actions. We will want to actively love our neighbors with the love we have received from God. We won’t be worried about ourselves, because we’ll be too busy living to please our Father.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33).
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).
How brightly is your light shining these days, my friend? Ask God to work in your heart to purify it so that his light can shine unimpeded through your life. It’s not about us, it’s all about him!
Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.