One of the verses in the Bible we frequently hear quoted is Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” God is calling each and every one of us to be a Christ-like example to all the people. He goes on to say in verse 16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This may seem like an easy task. How hard can it be to exemplify Christ in your everyday life? I can be kind to my friends, to my coworkers, to my family. I can help out the homeless guy down the street. That’s what Jesus would do. It’s not so hard. But wait a minute; I’m supposed to be kind to my boss that is constantly belittling my work? I’m supposed to help out that girl in class that never does her part on the assignment? I have to extend gratitude to that rude waiter at the restaurant? That doesn’t seem right. Doesn’t the Bible also say, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)? Because my boss talks down to me, it’s fine for me to talk bad about him too to my other coworkers. And that waiter who took too long to bring out my food doesn’t even deserve a tip. I haven’t seen him since he took my order! Are you saying I’m still supposed to be kind and compassionate to them? Situations such as these happen all the time. But how can we carry out God’s command when they do?
First of all, let’s address the first couple of verses, Matthew 5:14 and 16. How can you be “the light of the world” when you’re surrounded by ones who constantly bring you down? How are you supposed to “let your light shine” when you’re surrounded by so much negativity? It’s so much easier for others to bring you down than it is to build them up. It is so easy to let the negative comments of others get under your skin and leave you with a bad attitude the rest of the day, which in turn, also gets reflected on everyone else you come in contact with, whether they were the cause of it or not. You can’t let the remarks of one person affect your entire day. It’s just not worth it. Jesus faced numerous amounts of negative feedback, but he didn’t let it affect his work. He kept on preaching and teaching and doing the will of the One who sent him. He kept pushing forward with a positive attitude despite what the majority of the people were saying about Him. I know it’s easy to let those types of people get the best of you, but you must be the bigger person. Maybe they’re negative for a reason you know nothing about. We don’t always know the full story. When you extend kindness and generosity, especially to those who you think may not deserve it, it not only benefits you but also the person receiving it. You never know how far a small action such as that will go. Everything we do rubs off on other people, whether it is good or bad. You have someone talk down to you; you turn around and do the same thing to the next person. So instead, when someone is rude and harsh with you, be friendly and kind right back. The one who was originally rude to you will not be expecting that type of a response. Hopefully, they’ll take more notice of their words and actions and turn them around for the next person.
Now, let’s look at the last verse, Matthew 7:12. It’s extremely easy to look at that verse and say that it’s telling me to treat this person badly because they have wronged me. That makes sense right? I hate to tell you this, but that’s not what that verse is saying at all. I believe that’s just an excuse to try to justify your own wrongful actions. This verse is saying that when you come in contact with people that bring you down or bring out the worst in you, you must still be uplifting, encouraging, and thoughtful towards them, because that is how we all really want to be treated, is it not? I think you’d be lying to me if you said you didn’t want others to extend that kind of attitude towards you. I know firsthand these are all easier said than done. Sometimes it’s easy to carry this commandment out, but other times, it can be extremely difficult. The more you practice it the easier it becomes. It will eventually become second nature to you.
I’ll leave you with another great reminder as you try to put these verses into practice today. It’s also known as the Anyway poem and goes right along with what I’ve said in this post.
The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.