Have you ever heard the saying, “Share the Gospel always. Use words only when necessary.” It’s often attributed to something said by Saint Francis of Assisi, although some believe it’s not the case. Nonetheless, it makes me think twice about how I’m living. The world is full of people who don’t know our Lord, and perhaps one of the best ways to draw them to Him is to live like Jesus.
So, how can we be a light?
We can do good things for others from a heart of genuine generosity:
Good deeds don’t always have to be huge, like giving a billion dollars to some charity or volunteering 20 hours a day at a soup kitchen. Giving money and volunteering are great, and we should do both, but we can show Jesus’ love in the little things too, like offering a person a listening ear, showing compassion, extending forgiveness, being the first to apologize, or letting someone else go first in a busy line.
Sometimes we feel we don’t have much to give, so we don’t give at all. Resist that. I have some missionary friends who used to say the backbone of their ministry was faithful supporters who gave $10 to $2o a month. Those little gifts added up to big dividends.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14, 16 (NLT)
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35 (NLT)
Some of us learn best from watching others–not what they say, but what they do. So, perhaps another way to shine the light of Jesus into the world is to live by the Holy Spirit. We can show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. We can live like we are urged in Ephesians 5:8-20 (NLT):
- “Live as people of light.”
- “Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.”
- “Make the most of every opportunity…understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
- “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
- “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Know “this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
Sharing honestly about struggles . . .
Sometimes it’s easy to pretend we have it all together. Sometimes we’re afraid if we admit we struggle we might make God (or ourselves) look bad. But struggle with sin is a part of being a human. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and the desire to follow Him, but we will still war with our desires. The Apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 7:15-20. We know what is right, but we don’t always do it. We know what is wrong and sometimes we still choose to do it.
If we are honest about our struggles and hurts then others can see the redemptive work of Jesus in our lives. We should be wise when sharing–we aren’t forced to lay out every single terrible thought we’ve ever had. But trying to put on a perfect game face all the time leads to anxiety, guilt, and shame. It also leads to people thinking we are unapproachable and prideful. Love draws people. Pride drives them away.
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Loving even when others don’t show love back . . .
It’s rather simple to love those who love you. It’s easy to lend money to people who pay you back quickly and with interest. It’s fun to do something nice for someone who will return the favor. But to be like Jesus, we’re called to go further than that. We’re called to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. Not easy. Please note that this does not mean we can’t have boundaries with our feelings, time, money, and life. Boundaries are good and healthy, but it does mean that we have to set aside selfishness, which is not easy. Luke 6:32-36 (NLT)
I appreciate the story of Jon Foreman of the band Switchfoot facing protesters at one of his concerts. He served water to the protesters. He urged his audience to respond to the protesters in love. And he prayed for them, his enemies. His actions spoke volumes. As the Switchfoot lyrics say, “Love alone is worth the fight.”
Lead, don’t shove, bang, thump or yell . . .
Have you ever heard Jesus referred to as the Good Shepherd? If you’ve ever watched shepherds in action, the kind ones simply lead and call to their sheep. The sheep run after their shepherd because they recognize his voice and they trust him. He has shown his love by taking care of them. The good shepherd doesn’t thump the sheep over the head with his book of rules, he doesn’t scream at them for wandering out of the pasture, and he doesn’t leave them alone. Neither does he have to walk behind them whacking them with sticks. Love leads. Love gives. Love shows the way.