on Matthew 5 :16
Let your light so shine - Or more literally, Thus let your light shine, Ουτω λαμψατω το φως. As the sun is lighted up in the firmament of heaven to diffuse its light and heat freely to every inhabitant of the earth; and as the lamp is not set under the bushel, but placed upon the lamp-stand that it may give light to all in the house; Thus let every follower of Christ, and especially every preacher of the Gospel, diffuse the light of heavenly knowledge, and the warmth of Divine love through the whole circle of their acquaintance.
That they may see your good works - It is not sufficient to have light - we must walk in the light, and by the light. Our whole conduct should be a perpetual comment on the doctrine we have received, and a constant exemplification of its power and truth.
And glorify your Father - The following curious saying is found in Bammidbar Rabba, s. 15. "The Israelites said to the holy blessed God, Thou commandest us to light lamps to thee; and yet thou art the, Light of the world, and with thee the light dwelleth. The holy blessed God answered, I do not command this because I need light; but that you may reflect light upon me, as I have illuminated you: - that the people may say, Behold, how the Israelites illustrate him, who illuminates them in the sight of the whole earth." See more in Schoettgen. Real Christians are the children of God - they are partakers of his holy and happy nature: they should ever be concerned for their Father's honor, and endeavor so to recommend him, and his salvation, that others may be prevailed on to come to the light, and walk in it. Then God is said to be glorified, when the glorious power of his grace is manifested in the salvation of men.
on Matthew 5 :16
Let your light so shine ... - Let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your faithful instructions, be everywhere seen and known. Always, in all societies, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, let it be seen that you are real Christians.
That they may see your good works - The proper motive to influence us is not simply that we may be seen (compare Matthew 6:1), but it should be that our heavenly Father may be glorified. The Pharisees acted to be seen of men, true Christians act to glorify God, and care little what people may think of them, except as by their conduct others may he brought to honor God, yet they should so live that people may see from their conduct what is the proper nature of their religion.
Glorify your Father - Praise, or honor God, or be led to worship him. Seeing in your lives the excellency of religion, and the power and purity of the gospel, they may be won to be Christians also, and give praise and glory to God for his mercy to a lost world.
We learn here:
1. that religion, if it exists, cannot be concealed.
2. that where it is not manifest in the life, it does not exist.
3. that "professors" of religion, who live like other people, give evidence that they have never been truly converted.
4. that to attempt to conceal or hide our Christian knowledge or experience is to betray our trust, injure the cause of piety, and to render our lives useless. And,
5. that good actions will be seen, and will lead people to honor God. If we have no other way of doing good - if we are poor, and unlearned, and unknown yet we may do good by our lives. No sincere and humble Christian lives in vain. The feeblest light at midnight is of use.
"How far the little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world!"
on Matthew 5 :16
5:16 That they may see - and glorify - That is, that seeing your good works, they may be moved to love and serve God likewise.