Given that one’s job, especially in this day of increasing secularization, will invariably be the best opportunity one has to witness for Christ, it is essential that we, as Christians, first practice what we intend to preach. If not, we lose all hope of being taken seriously when we do.
The importance of this last point was underscored for me by one of my sons, both of whom were home for the weekend from college. It set in raining here on Sunday evening, and that prompted a discussion about the need for the two of them to be careful while driving back to school in the rain on Monday afternoon.
Sheepishly, one of them then told me he had recently been pulled over by a police officer near the campus. It had been raining that day. So, when the officer approached him, he asked if my son knew why he had pulled him over. My son replied that he did not. The officer then informed him that it was a state law to have one’s headlights on while driving in the rain.
As perhaps only a brash young man would do, my son spoke up and said, “Sir, I admit that I did not have my lights on as I should have; and I do not mean to be disrespectful. But, sir, I am looking in my rear view mirror right now at your patrol car; and you do not have your lights on either.”
The policeman looked back at his car, then at my son, and then just shook his head and smiled. After this he said simply, “Okay, you’ve got me on this one. Go on about your way. But turn on your lights; and I’ll go do the same.”
Now, my son was clearly wrong to be driving without his lights on. He had violated the law. But in this case, at least, the officer was no better than he was; and the officer, above all persons, ought to be living in compliance with the law. He ought to have been a shining example of practicing what he was preaching. Because he was not, he undercut his own authority. He negated his testimony.
And there we have it. If we, as Christians, do not let our own light shine, how then can we effectively challenge others as they make their way through this dark world? We invalidate our authority and our testimony. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says:
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
What about you today? Are your lights on? Are they shining in the darkness? If not, should they be? Turn on your lights, Christian. It will be better for everyone when you do.