CARBON OR CANDLE Andy Hollifield 10-9-18
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Christ went on to say in verse 15 and 16, “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. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Have you ever wondered why Christ didn’t liken us to a light bulb? He knew they were going to be invented. He could have even likened us to an oil lamp. They already had those because he spoke of them in the parable of the ten virgins. But yet, he spoke about men lighting a candle. Unlike a lamp, a candle is a nearly unrestricted flame. The restrictions of a candle flame is based only a few things. One is the size of the candle it is on and another thing is the fuel material the candle is made out of. Finally, it has to have sufficient oxygen to burn.
I didn’t write this to educate anyone about candles but rather to look at some of the characteristics of them to help us understand why Christ may have likened us to a candle. First, the flame of a candle isn’t ignited of itself but of another flame. We as Christians were lit by the light of Christ when we were born again. Prior to that, we were of no benefit to help others see. A candle has to be open in order to give its’ maximum light. An oil lamp had to be put out and the globe cleaned periodically or it will lose its’ ability to shine. The only way a candle is ineffective is if it burns itself up and there’s no more fuel or if outside forces such as wind or water extinguish it. The fact is that Jesus was the light of the world while he was here and told us to be when he was gone. Only when God calls us out of this life should our flame be extinguished. We burn and give light based on the blood shed at Calvary for our sins. The things we add to our base make us more flammable and therefore brighter and giving off more light. Prayer, bible study, reading Christian literature, and gospel music, all help us saturate ourselves with the things of God. As these things become more common in your life, you will burn brighter and longer, giving off more light. This spiritual “growth” only adds more fuel to the fire that God started in our souls when he saved us.
As we mature as Christians, the flame produces hotter heat and greater light around itself. We should be like the candle in that we not only give off light but also heat. Anyone should be able to see our flame far away but for them to feel the heat of our lives, they have to be close to the fire and it needs to be burning hot in our soul. Jesus wants our lights to shine to a lost and dying world just like his did. The number one thing that anyone walking in darkness needs and wants is light. Anytime you have lost your way, you look for some light so you can tell where you are. We have a lost world that needs some light to find their way. We should not be casting shadows that would hinder a lost person from coming to the light of the Lord’s truth and love.
There are two ways that a flame can cast a shadow. The first is if it is producing too much carbon which is caused by poor quality fuel material meaning the junk in our life. If you have ever used a piece of carbon paper, you know that it is black and will get all over your hands and cause you to smudge everything you touch. If carbon (sin) is in your life, your flame cannot burn as bright as it should and will not draw people to the love of Christ. The other way a flame can cast a shadow of itself, is if there is a brighter light behind it. Think about that for a minute: we get scared of shadows spiritually but they couldn’t exist unless a greater light is behind us. John said in 1 John 1:5 that in God is no darkness at all. Psalms 23 says “surely goodness and mercy shall follow thee all the days of thy life.” Goodness and mercy are behind us. They are the characteristics of God’s nature. He is the light behind us. We are between the brightest light and the darkness. You might say we are “afraid of our own shadow.” Those shadows should tell us that God has our back. They are nothing to fear but should bring comfort that God’s light is still shining on us.
I hope this is a blessing to you. I encourage you to try an experiment. Get in a dark place near a wall, and light a match or a candle. You will notice that the candle itself cast a shadow but the flame doesn’t. Here is a question to think about: Will you be a carbon Christian with a weak shadowy flame because of the junk in your life, or will you be a candle Christian, always burning hotter than your surroundings and giving off light? The choice is ours. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!