This is the third post in a series; in part 2, Annie discussed what it means to be a “city on a hill.”
I have too many lamps in my house. I love the soft warm light that lamps put off in each room. So instead of having overhead lights turned on, I prefer a few lamps in the living room, a couple in the bedroom, even one in the bathroom (which is when I realized I had too many lamps—when I could spare one from a main room for the bathroom). I feel like lamps make a home feel welcoming and open, inviting and friendly.
We’ve been talking about these verses about light for the last few weeks. I wonder if Jesus thought of lamps the same way we do now, and how they affect the feel of a home.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV).
To be a lamp on a stand, we have to speak love to the people in our homes. In my book Speak Love, I write about how important it is to treat your family well with the words that you use.
Jesus gives us two options for our lamp that shines to everyone in the house—it can be on a stand or under a bowl. I grew up with two younger sisters and we argued often, so I know just what it feels like to have my lamp snuffed out, and I equally know what it is to shove my own light under a bowl and say the mean things.
While the people in your home may be the easiest victims for your short temper or frustrated feelings, they are also the ones that can be the most affected by speaking kindness and love into their minds and hearts.
I want to use my words to be a lamp on a stand for my family. I know how a lamp makes me feel about the place I live—is it presumptuous to wonder if a family member full of encouraging and loving words could make a home feel the same way a beautiful lamp does on a dark night?
It doesn’t take a massive amount of work—a sympathetic word where frustration is expected, an encouraging note left in a lunchbox, reminding your parents that you are grateful for them. Choosing to speak love to the people in your house will make a bigger impact than you can imagine, just like the change in a living room when a lamp is turned on in the middle of the night. You are that lamp on a stand.
Annie Downs is an author who loves helping young people—especially teen girls and young women—overcome the challenges that life puts in the way of their spiritual development. Her most recent book is Speak Love. Follow Annie at her blog, or on Facebook and Twitter.