“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
No matter where you are, there are people who are in need of God’s love and light. Whether you live in a big city or in a rural area, there are people who are depressed, hurting, and struggling. They need to know that God truly does care about them. As Christians, we are to be the vessels, or lamps, through which God uses to shine His light and love to these in need of it. You don’t have to be rich, educated, talented, or important to shine God’s love. Anyone can do it. Many times, you don’t even have to say a word. If you want to shine God’s love to others, I suggest five simple ways you can do it no matter where you go.
1. Be filled with God’s love and light
The first thing you have to do is fill yourself up with God’s love and light. A car will not get anyone very far if its gas tank is empty or runs out of gas quickly. You cannot love others if your love tank is empty or low. Before you can shine God’s love to others, you have to fill up your tank. How do you do this?
Read the Bible, God’s word, which is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105) God’s word gives you the understanding and knowledge with which you can reach out to others. (II Timothy 3:16-17; Proverbs 6:23) The Bible is our spiritual food and medicine. (Psalm 19:8-11)P
Pray. Praying to God always has a way of filling you up with God’s love and peace. Prayer calms your own worries and fears so you have room to care about the needs of others. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Ask for it! Moses was not afraid to ask God show him His glory, and God answered his request. God filled Moses with His glory, and as a result, Moses’ face shone so brightly that the people could not even look at him. (Exodus 33:18; 34:29-35) When you are filled with God’s love and light, your face will radiate it. People are naturally drawn to other people who radiate a happy and loving energy.
Here is a scenario for you: A young woman is in a grocery store, and she is going through an extremely difficult time in her life. She feels so sad and heavy hearted that she feels unable to smile or to feel any happiness at all. She wonders where God is, and she silently prays, “God, if you really do care about me, please show me.” And, then, an older woman passes by her and beams a beautiful, genuine and loving smile at the younger woman. The younger woman cannot help but smile back, and it fills her with such a comforting warmth, like a hug. Suddenly, she realizes that God just answered her prayer, that He did indeed show her His love and care through another person, and all it took was just a smile.
You never know just how much your smile can help another person. Smiling creates positive energy, not just toward others but for yourself as well. You may be feeling down, and when you smile at someone, you too, are filled with joy. Smiling is a win-win gesture. According to an article in Psychology Today, a smile has a way of making you feel rewarded, and don’t we all want and need to be rewarded? Smiles are such small gestures, but they can light up another person’s life. If we all smiled more, what a difference we could make in the world!
3. Extend courteous gestures
In today’s world, people are often in a hurry and are focused only themselves. When someone takes the time out to offer us a helping hand, we are touched by their thoughtfulness and kindness. Kind and courteous gestures include the likes of opening doors for others, offering to help lighten someone’s heavy load, and picking up an object that someone dropped to return it to them, and allowing another person to go in line before you.
We often hear these days about people doing random acts of kindness, like picking up the bill for strangers in a restaurant. These acts not only touch the hearts of those for which they are directed, but also to all those who hear about them. When we hear or read about these random acts of kindness, we, too, are filled with love and joy for our fellow man. Kind gestures are like a good disease, spreading love, happiness, and warmth far and wide.
To extend courteous gestures, you have to be on the look out for opportunities.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
4. Offer a listening ear
One day, I was in the laundry mat, putting my clothes in the washing machine. There was a man pacing back and forth, like something was bothering him. Before I finished with my clothes, he spoke up and asked me, “Can I talk to you? I just need someone to talk to.” I was surprised by his request, but I certainly welcomed the opportunity to listen to someone who needed it. The man then proceeded to talk for some time about some personal problems he was having and he didn’t know what to do. I was in no position to solve his problems, but he didn’t need me to solve his problems, he just needed a listening ear. I kept quiet while he talked. Afterward, I let him know that I could understand some of his pain. I encouraged him to pray to God about it, and I told him I would pray for him. Afterward, he was not pacing anymore, but talking about other things, like his children, and cutting jokes.
Sometimes, having someone to simply listen to you without judging and without trying to “solve your problems” can do wonders for you. I have often heard the cliche that “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, so that you should listen twice as much as you speak.” Along those lines, the Bible does say this:
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (James 1:19)
5. Express empathy without judging
The world is full of people who dress and and behave in various ways. Some people are conservative while some are more liberal. As a result, some are clean shaven and dress in suits while others dress more casual and wear long hair and tattoos. However, all people share the common need to be respected and loved. No one wants others to look down on them and treat them condescendingly. What’s more, all people sin and make mistakes. For this reason, we should all look at other people with empathy.
I was once in a situation where a woman was acting out badly, talking loudly, and making a scene in a public place. Some people criticized her while one person took her aside and kindly asked her, “Come here and tell me what’s wrong.” The woman then collapsed into tears, opening up and telling about her sad circumstances. All it took was one person to care instead of criticizing. We should all strive to be that one person. You may be the very light and love of God that they desperately need.
Hear the words of Jesus Christ:
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
The Apostle Paul also says this:
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.” (Romans 14:10)
And, finally, Jude says this so aptly:
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a difference, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 22)