LIGHT UP YOUR WORLD
"'No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they're going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life a well-lighted room.'" Luke 11:33-36 (The Message).
As a Jew, Jesus would have used the words, 'light' and 'darkness' from the understanding that they would be interpreted functionally, not literally. The 'eye' represented a person's perspective on life. To have an 'eye of light' indicated that the person had a heart that was one (echad) with God with an unselfish and generous disposition. To have a dark or evil eye meant that the person was selfish and greedy, unable to see beyond their own noses.
People who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have responded to His invitation to take His yoke, follow and learn from Him, have been relocated from the dominion of darkeness into the kingdom of light. They have had a change of master and a change of disposition. They are no longer ruled by greed. They have become generous givers, not only of their resources but also in attitude towards other people.
Jesus used this as the test of a person's true response to Him. When Zaccheus received Him, his first action was to overturn his old life by being generous to the poor and by making restitution for his dishonesty. This, to Jesus, was evidence of a truly changed life.
That kind of life cannot be lived in secret. Just as there is not value in putting a light under a bed, a changed and generous dispositon is intended to be a witness to God's grace in a life, setting the person free from the greed that brings judgment and replacing it with the joy of giving.
In his letter, James made a case for the futility of faith without good works. Good works in themselves cannot save, firstly because anything 'good' we try to do comes from polluted hearts, and secondly, because God is not impressed by our best self-effort. But when our sins have been removed and our hearts changed by God's power, we are free to express the new life in us by a changed attitude to other people. We can now see them through God's eyes and feel their need in our hearts.
God's way of involving us in His government of mercy is to meet the needs of others through us. He provides for us through others so that, in turn, we can give away to those in need. In this way we create a current of resources which keeps circulating as long as we keep giving. What we hoard stops the flow of that current and shuts down the joy that comes from doing life God's way. 'Keep the current flowing,' said Jesus, 'and your life will be lit up with God's presence and joy.'
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