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It Never Hurt Anyone To Be Nice

It Never Hurt Anyone To Be Nice

It Never Hurt Anyone To Be Nice

The other day, we were in a hurry. The power had been out overnight, and it was still off when we got up, which happened to be a Sunday. We hurried out the door to hurry to get some breakfast so that we could hurry to our friends’ house to take showers before we went to church.

As we were leaving the fast food establishment with our to-go breakfast order, a man in front of us ended up holding the door for several people to come in or go out. As he was holding the door for us, I said, “I guess you got caught holding the door, huh?” And he replied, “That’s okay. It never hurt anyone to be nice.

Those were interesting words, and so true, too. The kind of simple thought that makes you really stop and think.

I actually tried to think of situations where it might hurt to be nice to someone. Yes, you can probably think of a few. Some of them are societal hurts, such as the reputation you might seemingly lose by being friends with someone who the world in general thinks is strange. Losing a friend or two might seem to hurt a little bit, but it would definitely be worth it in the long run. You might could think of some sort of extreme example about trying to help someone during a wartime situation and facing punishment for your actions or something similar, but in reality that will only happen to very, very few people.

So then the answer is that it does not hurt to be nice. Unless you choose to be hurt by it, but then that is your own choice.

When the man at the restaurant said that, he did not even have to stop and think about it. It came quickly, as though it is just the way that he lives his whole life. I would guess that is most likely the case with him, too.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone were like that? And by “everyone” I am not talking about everyone else. I am really asking that question of me. I hope you are asking it of yourself now, too. Wouldn’t it be great if I were like that? Because I really cannot control anyone besides myself. But niceness seems to spread quickly, so that if others experience niceness, then they in turn will look for ways to be nice to others.

This goes back to something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.” That of course is also known as the Golden Rule. If you want others to be nice, then be nice yourself. As Jesus said, that sums up all of the Old Testament Law and the prophets. And it is one of the themes of Jesus’ ministry, too.

It really does not hurt at all to be nice to other people. Even better, it will make other people stop and notice, and want to be nice, too.

Just another way to let our lights shine for God, so that He will be glorified. And all it takes is doing something nice for someone else.

It Is Not All About You

It Is Not All About You


I am going to share some words with you now that are sometimes difficult to hear. Most people do not like to hear them, and even when they hear them, they don’t want to believe them. But these words are true almost all of the time. Take a deep breath, and here we go:


I will wait just a minute while some of you shake your fist at the computer screen. Or maybe you want to leave and come back to read the rest of this later. I can wait.

Ready to move on? Okay, let’s go about this rationally.

When we are born into this world, we immediately think that the whole world is all about us. Just think about it – every need that you have is immediately met by someone to the best of their abilities. It is a pretty sweet life. But then as that life goes on, the world stops revolving around us individually, although some people have trouble coming to terms with that or accepting that little fact of reality. Some still think that the whole world is all about me. What I want. What I like. What I just have to have right at this immediate moment without waiting a single nanosecond longer. And if things are not to my liking, I am going to make my feelings known in the strongest way possible to get the results that I want. Sometimes maybe it is not quite so extreme as that makes it sound, but sometimes many people feel hurt or betrayed or angry when something does not go the way that they want it to go.

I was reminded of this recently by our son Jaylin, who was not all that happy about the dress code for his 8th grade class trip to Washington DC. When I asked him what the problem was, he said, “They won’t let us wear athletic shorts except for on the days when we travel.” I tried to explain to him that many of the places that they were going were places of honor, built to honor past presidents, government officials, war heroes, and others who have done different things to earn respect. Therefore, those in charge of the trip were trying to make sure that the students showed the proper respect in the way that they dress on the trip, which also presents a better image of those they represent: the school, their families, and God. And I finished up with that great line in all capitals up above. “What it comes down to is that it is not all about you and what you want, and not about whatever you might want.” I tried to say it as lovingly as possible, but it still needed to be said.

One of the ways we can truly let our lights shine for God’s glory, as Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 5:16, is to put others above ourselves. We should not get caught up in the trap of thinking that we are the most important ones, but rather we should look to the needs of others instead, putting them ahead of us.

The apostle Paul wrote of this in Philippians 4:3-4, which says, Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” That should be pretty plain, I think. Yes, there are times when we do have to look out for our own needs, but we can still consider others more important than ourselves.

Separately, Paul wrote in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” That is the tricky part – not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to. Tricky, yes, but it is what we are called to do.

The key to all of this is humility. Humility is not something we are born with. Humility is not something that the world in general teaches us. But humility is what is expected of us as Christians. Humility is one of the underlying themes of all of the teachings of Jesus. He illustrated it with a story in Luke 14:7-11.

He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place. “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

If we humble ourselves before God, He will exalt us. Maybe not in the way that we might want, but in His own way.

The ultimate humility is putting God first in our lives, which is absolutely essential once we put on Jesus Christ in baptism. And then if we truly do put Him first, it will become easier to put others before ourselves as well.

There is not a magic switch inside of any of us where we can suddenly realize that it is not all about us. Instead, it is a journey that we are all on. Some of us are farther down that journey than others of us, and some have an easier road down that journey than others do. But that does not mean that any of us should give up on our journey. We should continue on, learning as we go, learning both from our mistakes and from observing others.

As we learn more and more that it is not all about us, our lights can shine more and more brightly for God. And through that, He will be glorified.

Shine in the Darkness

Shine in the Darkness

A light shines even brighter in the darkness

Do you ever light a candle in the daytime? Some people do, and you may notice its flame flickering as you pass by, but it doesn’t necessarily seem all that bright.

However, when it is dark, a single candle can make all the difference in the world, and it is definitely noticed by everyone who is around it.

One time many years ago, I went on a cave tour, where we were guided deep down inside a cave, winding this way and that through the narrow passageways. Eventually, we reached a large room, and the guide said, “Now here is something you don’t often get to experience: total darkness.” And then he turned off all of the lights in the cave. You could not see anything, no matter how hard you tried, because the light from outside could not penetrate that deep into the cave.

But then, the guide lit a single match, and suddenly we could see again. That small amount of light from that one match seemed to fill the entire room. That one light that would otherwise seem rather dim was definitely welcome when there were no other sources of light around.

When we let our lights shine for God, as Jesus told us to do in Matthew 5:16, it is easy to do when we are around others who are doing the same. Perhaps this is because we can sort of blend in with all of the other lights that are around, contributing to the total light while not having to do it all by ourselves.

Things are sometimes different when we find ourselves in the darkness, though. Just as it was easy to let our light blend in with the other light, sometimes it is easier to hide in the darkness. We too often give in to the temptation not to let our lights shine when things around us are dark. But just as that match in the cave made all the difference in the world, so too can we make all the difference as Christians when we are surrounded by spiritual darkness.

Be sure to keep shining your light in the darkness, whether that darkness is some serious illness, a difficult family situation, an un-Christian work environment, or any other negative situation where you feel that no one else is seeking out God’s will.

Keep doing what you know is right. You do not necessarily have to preach a sermon to the others around you, but you can preach a silent sermon by your actions and by your words. While that is easy to do in friendly surroundings, it will be all the more noticed in those dark situations, and it may be just what someone else needs to see.

Let your light shine for God, especially when things around you seem dark.

We Shine Because We Are Washed Clean

We Shine Because We Are Washed Clean

We Shine Because We Are Washed Clean By the Blood of Jesus

Why do we shine? We shine because we are washed clean.

Have you ever been amazed at how clean your car is after you wash it? Or how nice a window looks once it has been cleaned? Things that are clean shine because all of the dirt and other bad stuff has been washed off of them.

As Christians, we have been washed clean as well. All of our past impurities – our sins – have been washed from us, making us just like we are brand new all over again. But here is the slight paradox to our human minds. What is it that washes us clean? Is it some special form of soap or water? No, we are washed clean by blood. What? Seriously? Yes, we are cleansed by the blood that Jesus gave as he was crucified on the cross, taking our sins away.

The apostle John tells us this in a scene which was revealed to him. In Revelation 7, John tells of seeing people robed in white and praising God. John is told who these people are in verse 14: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Their robes were shining because of the blood of the Lamb, which is the blood of Jesus Christ.

To our earthly minds, when we think of blood getting on something, we think of a stain that is hard to remove. But here, we see that the blood of Jesus is not a stain, but rather a cleansing agent.

That does not just apply to those few who John saw in heaven, either. In 1 John 1:7, we read, “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” So here, John tells us that this cleansing through the blood of Jesus is for all of us, as long as we walk in the light.

Just how do we get this cleansing through the blood of Jesus? As he recounted his conversion in Acts 22:16, the apostle Paul, after he had seen the great light, was told by Ananias, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

And once our sins have been washed away, we will be shiny new Christians, so that everyone can see God’s light shining through us.

Why do we shine? We shine because the blood of Jesus has made us clean.

Christianity Is Not Situational

Christianity Is Not Situational

Christianity is not situational

Christianity is never situational. In the Bible, Jesus did not say to let your light shine to those who are nice to you. He did not say to be kind and generous only to those who are fellow Christians. We are supposed to show Jesus to everyone, everywhere, all the time.

While we know that fact deep down inside, we do not always live that fact. We often only want to do good things for those who have done good things for us. Or we only want to do good things for those who we think will do good things for us, or for others. We are tempted to think along the lines of, “I will help someone, but not if I think they aren’t all that good.” Sometimes, we will even say something like that out loud, which I am sure would make Jesus shake his head in disbelief.

No, we are not commanded to act like Christians only toward other Christians. We are not even commanded to act like Christians only toward those who we think have a really good chance of becoming Christians. Instead, Jesus expects us to act like Christians toward everyone, no matter what their situation, their motive, or their background.

Christianity is not situational. Let your light shine in all situations!

A Simple Act of Kindness

A Simple Act of Kindness

A simple act of kindness can open many doors

A simple act of kindness done out of purely unselfish motives can lead to all kinds of blessings that you may never have expected. And it may also lead you to someone who needs to hear just why you are letting your light shine, which may be your way of introducing them to the Gospel of Jesus. Give it a try sometime, just to see what happens!

How to Shine: Help

How to Shine: Help


Previously, we looked at a simple way to let God’s light shine through you, and that is to smile. Show the happiness that you have through your salvation by showing your happiness.

So now here is another way to shine God’s light:


To some people, helping others seems like an easy thing to do. To others, who are perhaps less outgoing, helping others can seem like a chore, or perhaps even an unpleasant task.

However, according to the Bible we have a God-given responsibility to help others who are in need. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of separating the sheep from the goats, with the sheep being those who have fed the hungry, given water to the thirsty, shown hospitality to the strangers, clothed the needy, cared for the sick, and visited those in prison, saying that whatever anyone has done for the least of those in need was an act toward Jesus himself. Those who have done this will receive an eternal reward, according to Jesus. And conversely, those who did not help those in need will be sent to eternal punishment.

Elsewhere in the Bible, James 1:27 tells us, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” From this, we can see that religion is so much more than just showing up at a worship service a few times a week. Pure religion is actually helping others while keeping ourselves pure instead of fitting in with the rest of the world.

So how do we help others? What is it that we are supposed to do for others? Are we expected to do something great, or something that is beyond what we can reasonably do? Not at all. It can be something big, or it can be something small, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:10, “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” God has given each of us gifts to do different things. He does not expect more of us than what He has given us. If you can do something big, then that is great. But if you can do something small, that is fine, too.

Helping others could be something as simple as taking a meal to someone who is sick, or visiting someone in the hospital. Or helping a friend move. Or just sharing a kind word. It does not have to be anything incredibly large, although it may turn out to be quite large to the person that you are helping. Whatever small act you do may be just the thing that shows them the love that God has given to us, His love that we are passing on to others.

This can be difficult for those who consider themselves not to be outgoing. But it is what God expects us to do. And He even tells us that he will help us. Right after 1 Peter 4:10 that tells us that we should use the gifts God has given us, we find this in verse 11: “If anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything.” God will give us the strength to do what He wants us to do. Similarly, Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” God’s Spirit in us gives us power, as long as we let that Spirit work in us.

If you find yourself feeling uncertain about being able to help someone, just say a prayer to God, take a deep breath, and take that first step. In the end, you will not regret it, and you will be storing up treasures for yourself in heaven by the things that you are doing to help other people. While it will be a blessing to those that you help, it will also be a blessing to you. And once you see how easy it is to help someone and how good you feel after doing so, you will have an even easier time the next time you see a need. Pretty soon, it will be natural for you, so that you won’t have any trouble at all. It just takes a little practice, taking that first step.

It is important, however, to remember just why it is that we are helping others. Although we can definitely receive short-term rewards, as well as eternal rewards, we should remember that the real reason we are helping others is to serve God. Going back to 1 Peter 4:11, we are reminded that we are serving others “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” And in Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

We are not letting our lights shine for our own glory, but rather we are shining our lights so that God will be praised. So don’t be afraid of helping others. Instead, help others to let your light shine! And God will be glorified when you do.

How to Shine: Smile

How to Shine: Smile

How to Shine: Smile

How do you let your light shine so that others can see your good works and glorify God in heaven, as we read about in Matthew 5:16?

There is one simple way to shine to get started. It is really easy. Anyone can do it. Are you ready? Here it is:


Yes, just smile. Anywhere. Everywhere. To Anyone. To everyone.

Maybe you remember the old song we used to sing as children, which says it isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E. That is very much true – it really isn’t any trouble. All you have to do is turn the corners of your mouth upward, and there you go.

Think about how a smile can change things. The first place I think about is in the checkout line at the grocery store. It would be great if your checkout person were smiling and happy, wouldn’t it? So often these days, it seems like cashiers are grumpy and irritable, as if you are imposing on them to do their jobs. But you can’t control them, can you? You can only control what you do. So what can you do? You can just smile at them. Say something pleasant. Ask how their day is going. Say just about anything nice with smile, and it doesn’t really matter what you say. Your smile will speak much louder than your words.

And just maybe by smiling, you can control them, at least for a moment. Because just maybe your smile will cause them to smile right back at you. Smiles are contagious, after all. If someone is smiling at you, it is difficult not to smile back at them. Just try it sometime and see.

If it works a few times for you, pretty soon you just might find yourself smiling at everyone – people at the gas station, other drivers in traffic, coworkers, other church members, people you don’t even know. And don’t worry about the results. If they smile back at you, that is great! But if they don’t, what has it cost you besides the movement of a few of your facial muscles?

Of course, there are a few occasions where smiling is not appropriate, even if you are trying to shine, such as if the other person is facing difficulty of some sort. There are times to be sad and not smile, and the Bible even reminds us of this in Ecclesiastes 3. But there are many times when a smile can turn around someone’s day, too.

And yes, sometimes it might be hard to smile. You might be having a bad day. You might have had several unpleasant things happen to you during the day. But if you remember the words of the song mentioned earlier, “If ever you’re in trouble it will vanish like a bubble if you’ll only take the trouble just to S-M-I-L-E.” Maybe smiling will not take away all of your troubles every single time, but it will help. Do your best to cheer up. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If you are having trouble smiling yourself, find something to be cheerful about before whatever trouble you are facing dries up your bones. Because that wouldn’t be good at all.

How does smiling let your light shine? While our reasons for smiling may not be immediately obvious to everyone, we can smile through our difficulties because we know of the hope we have through Jesus, the promise that the troubles of this world are not the final end to everything, as Jesus told us in John 16:33. Through Jesus, we have overcome the world and all of its problems. So we have a lot to smile for.

And just maybe, someone will ask you why you are always smiling, which will give you a way in to tell them exactly why, letting your light shine even more. Not because of anything that we have done, but because of what God has done for us by saving us through the sacrifice of His Son.

So let your light shine through the happiness that you show others by smiling. It really isn’t any trouble!

How Do We Shine?

How Do We Shine?

How Do We Shine?

We know that we are supposed to let our lights shine, so that others may see our good works and glorify God. But how do we shine? What is it exactly that we are supposed to do?

That’s a good question. A question for which there isn’t one good answer. But don’t despair, because there are actually an infinite number of good answers!

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a specific list of good works in the Bible? It would be nice if the Bible had said, “Hey, Jesus said to let your light shine! So here are 10 ways to do it! Click here to begin.” Oops, I was mixing up the Bible with those clickbait websites there for a minute. Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t have a whole bunch of ads on each page to try to distract you from its content, unlike those websites that really don’t have much content but still want to make as much money as they can off of you.

And also fortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us a checklist to go by. Because if it did, then everyone would just be checking off the boxes to get their credit and not really paying attention to the real purpose behind it. Sort of like when you go to open house at your child’s school, and they give you a checklist of things to see in all of the classes so that you will go to all of the rooms and not just your child’s room. Once you check off everything on the list, your child gets a prize for having a completed list. And you went to all of the rooms, but not necessarily because of your desire to do so. You were just doing it so that your child could get whatever prize was being offered. What? Your child’s school didn’t do that? My child’s did.

No, Christianity is not set up that way. If we just go through and do things because we feel like someone is making us, or because we want the reward at the end, then we aren’t doing things for the right reason. We should be doing what we do for another reason. The real question changes from “How do we shine?” to “Why do we shine?”

What reason is that? The Bible tells us very simply and plainly in 1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us. Because God loved us, we should love everyone else. God has done a great thing for us in that he has loved us when we were unlovable, and He has made us His own even though we can do nothing to deserve that. Also, there is nothing that we can do directly for God, because what do you give someone who already has everything? Or what do you do for someone who can already do anything? The answer is that you don’t do anything for Him, but instead you do things because of Him.

Since there is not anything you can do for God, instead you turn and do those things for other people. You love them just as God has loved you, and in doing that you will be letting your light shine for Him. Yes, it really is that simple.

But while the Bible doesn’t specifically list it all out in one place, it is full of ways to shine your light to those that you are around. Start reading, and you will see several examples. Maybe not a list, but instead examples of how other people showed God’s love. The things they did, the words they said, or maybe even the things that they did not do. And more importantly, why they did the things that they did.

We will continue to break it down here in the future, to look at some specific examples, and to see how we can apply that in today’s world.

A Light That Is Never Turned On

A Light That Is Never Turned On


Several years ago, I was at a lighting seminar as part of continuing education for electrical engineering. As part of the course, the speaker was talking about the efficiency of light fixtures, which is figured by comparing the input energy to the light output. The higher the light output and the lower the energy input, the more efficient the light fixture is considered to be.

The speaker said, “The most ideally efficient light fixture is one that is turned off. You aren’t getting any light out of it, but it is not using any energy.” That drew some laughter from around the room, as you might imagine.

Then he said, “Of course, a light fixture that is never turned on serves no purpose.” His point was that no matter how efficient you might consider a light fixture to be, if you aren’t getting anything out of it, then what is the point of even having it around? That has stuck with me for all these years.

He was speaking from a strictly secular, product-oriented view, but those words really echo something that Jesus said during the sermon on the mount:

No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. – Matthew 5:15 (HCSB)

This came right after Jesus had said, “You are the light of the world.” He was saying that even though we are God’s light, if we keep that light hidden, then we are not doing any good at all. Much like a modern-day light fixture that is turned off. Yes, it is a light, but the people around it are still in the darkness.

Just like with that light fixture, there is a cost associated with the light, and that cost is your time and energy to actually do something, but the benefits are definitely worth the cost in this case. No spreadsheets or fancy calculations are required to figure that out.

What Jesus says right after the above sentence is just as well known:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16 (HCSB)

He is saying that in the same way that you don’t hide or turn off a light in your house, we should not hide the light that God has put inside of us, but rather we should shine that light in order to glorify God and lead others to Him.

If we don’t use the light that God has given to us to be His lights in the world, then we are serving no purpose at all as Christians in the world. Turn on your light!