Matthew 5:16 says,
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.
I find it interesting that Jesus says ‘let your light so shine’. Why not just say, let your light shine? In this verse the word for “so” in the original context is very emphatic. It means in the same manner as; the word appearing before or after.
In other words what Jesus is saying is that there is a particular way and manner that we should let our light shine. It is this manner that has been elucidated (made clear) for us in the previous verse (i.e. verse 15). Matthew 5:15 says,
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house”.
So when Jesus talks about “letting your light so shine”, according to verse 15 this happens in two practical ways:
(i) Our light which Christ has lighted (given us) should not be hidden by us but rather, we must very intentionally position ourselves in such a way that our light is not just visible but unavoidable to those within our vicinity.
Meaning we shouldn’t hide our faith but rather be very intentional about how to make it more obvious. Just as placing a candle on a candle stick and placing it on a table makes it more noticeable than when it is hidden in a cupboard.
So for a Christian, the issue is not whether you have light or not (because light is a direct result of the life of God in a person). The issue is what are you doing with the light that you have?
(ii) A candle in a darkened house at night has a considerable impact on all those in the house in the sense that it changes the way they see things. You see, our kingdom as Christians is not of this world. It is a kingdom of light whereas the kingdom of this world is one of darkness (Colossians 1:13, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Corinthians 6:14). Just as light and darkness distinctly contrast even so the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are distinctly different.
For example, in the kingdom of this world when a man slaps you, you must slap him back to show you are not a fool. But in the kingdom of God, when you are slapped you must receive it with all meekness and go on your way at the very least. At most you must turn your other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and it’s precisely so that you look like a fool (1 Corinthians 4:10).
In essence, the second point is saying that everytime you do things the way they are done in the kingdom of light you are demonstrating to the onlookers of the world the way things are carried out in Zion where you hail from. If they attend their eyes to it, they will begin to see how God intends for them to view that issue.
This is how our light lightens every man in the house so to speak.
Finally, Matthew 5:16 closes by telling us the reason why we should let our light so shine. It is so that men can “glorify our Father who is in heaven”. You see, those who don’t know God cannot know Him except by revelation and one of the reasons why God didn’t take you to heaven immediately you were saved is because He wants to use your life as one of the means through which He reveals Himself to the world.
Hence the extent to which your life is aligned to the will of God is the extent to which you will reflect the nature of God’s kingdom and by extension the nature of God Himself to the world around you.
To “glorify” means to ‘regard’ or ‘esteem’ as glorious. Simply put, people will not render or esteem God as glorious if they don’t know what is glorious about Him. They cannot know what is glorious about Him if you as His son does not reflect the glorious nature of your Father, God, through your good works.
It is not enough to shine. You must shine a certain way. Let your light SO shine!