Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul gave some advice to a young man named Titus that all Christians would do well to take to heart:
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7).
If you’re not sure what a “pattern” is, do you remember reading about the “seven lamps” that made up “the candlestick” in the tabernacle (Num. 8:1-4)? If so, you may remember that this candlestick was carefully made “according to the pattern which the Lord had showed Moses” (Num. 8:1-4). It was a pattern that typified the Lord Jesus Christ, who later declared,
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
When the Lord walked among men, He was the light of the world because—like the candlestick that typified Him—He was “made under the law” (Gal. 4:5), and He walked “according to the pattern which the Lord had showed Moses” in the Law, as He offered the light of eternal life to men. But later He added,
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
Now that the Lord is gone, the world has a different source of spiritual light, one that Paul described in Philippians 2:15,16. Speaking to members of the Body of Christ, he wrote,
“…YE shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.”
Now that the Lord is no longer here on earth, it’s our turn to be the light of the world, as we offer the light of eternal life to the lost!
But we don’t shine as lights in the world as our Lord did, by walking according to the pattern of the law. “We are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:15), so we shine the light of grace by walking according to the pattern of good works we find in the epistles of Paul, the apostle of grace. If you are still observing Israel’s sabbath, or adhering to the restricted diet of Leviticus 11, etc., you are telling people we’re under the Law! And that’s not shining the right light of life to lost sinners. It’s hard to get saved by grace if you think we’re under the Law!
We know that walking in good works is an important part of shining as lights in the world, for in telling the Philippians they were the light of the world, Paul prefaced his words by saying,
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14,15).
That’s Paul’s way of saying that you shouldn’t be trying to shine the light of life to men if you yourself are walking in darkness!
But as you shine the light of grace, adorned by the testimony of your pattern of good works, it is important to let people know that you’re not walking in good works because you’re a good person. You need to let them know that you’re doing it because you’re a child of God! That’s what the Lord had in mind when He said,
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Now, you know why He had to say that. When men see you do good works, they tend to glorify you instead of God, saying things like, “Isn’t he a good man for doing something like that!” The Lord said not to let them think that way, to let your light shine in such a way that they will glorify God instead. How do we do that? There’s only one way to do it, and that’s to let people know that you belong to the Lord! That way God gets the glory when men see your good works, and not you. It’s the only way to cast the Lord in a good light, so tell someone today!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.