During the past week, I listened to Chuck Swindoll preach on his radio program about women of noble character. Using Proverbs 31 as his text, Mr. Swindoll provided some insight that I had not heard or read previously.
For example, he explained some of the Middle Eastern cultural practices behind Proverbs 31:18. Describing the noble woman, the verse stated, "She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night" (NIV). I assumed that the woman stayed up most (if not all) of the night working on various projects. However, Chuck Swindoll explained that compassionate, generous, and hospitable families of the Middle East would leave a lamp lit during the night so that poor and distressed people would be able to approach their houses for help. If someone needed bread for his family, he would know that the house or tent with the lit lamp would be the place to go. If a traveler needed a place to spend the night, he would look for the light of a lamp in the night.
As I thought about Chuck Swindoll's explanation of Middle Eastern customs, I gained a new perspective of Jesus' words to his followers: "You are the light of the world...Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14, 16, NIV). I realized that Christ calls for his disciples to be compassionate, generous, and hospitable. I understood his intent for us to be helpful toward those in need and to provide some measure of safety and security for those traveling through a dark world.
Now I must ask myself: Am I letting my light shine? Do people in need see me as approachable and welcoming? Am I generous with my time? Will I stop to listen? Am I generous with my resources? Will I give away my money? Am I safe? Will I judge someone who struggles? Am I secure? Will I harm someone by spreading their secrets? Will I protect innocent people?
Letting my light shine means far more than I ever realized. It is more than being polite and putting in a good word for Jesus once in a while. It involves a high degree of compassion, generosity, and hospitality. Now that I have a richer understanding of Jesus' intent, I am determined to follow through and become one who lets his light shine.