Matthew 5:14-16

5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. 5:15 Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. 5:16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

(World English Bible)

I love the metaphor of people as light. Each person can be a slightly different spectrum of frequencies.

This excerpt has two points which interest me:

“… it shines to all who are in the house” a light does not call attention to itself, but to what it illuminates. So being a bright light standing on a hill need not be the same as parading oneself before others (cf Matt. 6:1-18).

“… that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” praise is not due to you for the good you do, but to your Father in Heaven. This sounds harsh — why not be rewarded, why not receive praise for doing good? — but at the same time attractive, and has a ring of truth about it.

Doing good — by which I mean acting virtuously or excelling generally — seems to be accompanied by a kind of submission or humility. I think primarily of great athletes or scientists. When interviewed or speaking about their achievements, they appear proud less often than they seem to show humility in the face of the greatness of which they are a part. They seem uncomfortable when accepting praise. …

Of course there are counter-examples — plenty these days, especially academics — but the self-aggrandising academic or sportsperson just seems to be a bad example of their type.

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