“Let your light shine” sounds like a great saying. To young students, however, it can be confusing. Children think literally and understanding how to let their light shine can be a difficult concept to teach.
Let your light shine, Matthew 5
In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus tells us that we are to be the light of the world. He explains that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden and that people do not light a lamp and then put it under a bowl. Instead, they set it up high on a lampstand so it will give light to all in the house. He then goes on to say that we are to let our lights shine in the same way.
Let your light shine, Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.-Matthew 5:16
Considering a city on a hill and a lamp on a lampstand, you realize that shining your light is for the purpose of others seeing you. But not just YOU! What others should see if your good works. And not for the purpose of self-recognition, but for the purpose of glorifying God.
When was oil lamp invented?
To put into context these verses, it helps to know what sources of light people had. Oil lamps would have been the common light fixtures of that time. The oil lamp was invented long before Christ came to earth. That is to say, there are archaeological finds that date oil lamps back to ancient times. After I traveled to Israel and studied what oIl lamps looked liked when Jesus was a little boy, I was shocked at how small they were. They were tiny clay vessels that fit in the palm of your hand. I guess they would have used them like flashlights or phone lights.
How to let your light shine? – Be courageous!
In developing the plot, I thought about how children would understand how they are to let their light shine. What problems might this little vessel face? The first is the one that Jesus addresses when He says that we do not light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. The first step is to be brave and willing to share Jesus with others. The Bible commands us to be courageous in several places.
Bible Verses on Courage
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid … for the Lord goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.-Deuteronomy 31:6
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afariad; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.-Joshua 1:9
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.-1 Corinthians 16:13
For God has not given us spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.-2 Timothy 1:7
you can find more here.
Light shines brighter in the dark
The opposite of light is dark. Darkness was never created by God. It is simply the absence of light. As they understand that light represents God and that if they are brave enough to share Jesus, they can recognize “darkness” or areas where God is absent. Helping children learn what is ungodly is as important as helping them to discover what is godly. Formulating a discussion on this topic will help to discover your child’s spiritual growth.
How bright should you let your light shine?
Can you shine your light too bright? This is the next problem that Oil Lamp faces in the story. Once he discovers that others are attracted to the light the potter has given him, he ignites with pride. He pushes his flame bigger and the other vessels feel the heat. The heat becomes so intense that they feel burned and are forced to turn away from the light. This is what happens when we share the gospel without gentleness. When we do not give the Holy Spirit time to work. We have to be careful that we do not drive others away from Christ by appearing judgemental and unloving.
Encouraging to others
Oil Lamp’s flame has been extinguished twice. Firstly, by his own fear. Secondly, by others who reject him. Tea Pot and Little Pot encourage the little lamp. How do they encourage one another? The same way that we do. By sharing our own stories and how the potter has worked in our lives. Tea Pot knows what it is to serve and Little Pot knows how good the potter truly is. They did not always know that, however. Their experiences taught them. When they share their stories with Oil Lamp, he gains faith again and is ready to shine.
Only the potter can light the wick
Even though OIl Lamp is ready to shine again, it must wait for the potter to return and light it. It is important to remember that we cannot light ourselves. When the world tells our children to shine, they also tell them that the light is something that comes from within them. Jesus is the light, however, and while He created all of us in His image, we are not always a good reflection of HIm. Think back to our verse in Matthew above. When our light shines it allows others to see our good works and give glory to God. The light is not the good works we do. It is what allows others to see the good works. It is a reflection of God being in our lives and the reason we do good things. We shine for God’s glory, not our own.
What is a lampstand?
Finally, at the end of the story, the potter gives light back to the Oil Lamp and places it above the other vessels on a lampstand. A lampstand is a pillar, tripod, or stand to support or hold a lamp. Therefore, on the lampstand, the oil lamp can give the most light. It is above the darkness and separated from the mischief that the other vessels revel in. Similarly, we know that separating ourselves from mischief is important. We sometimes believe we have to be right in the middle of darkness and sin to shine. However, Jesus explains in Matthew that a city on a hill or lamp upon a lampstand is better seen and able to burn the brightest.