Lights In the Wrong Place

Posted on: June 21st, 2020

“What have you there that is so interesting?” asked Mr. Dale of his grandson, earnest, as he noticed his long-continued reading.

“It is a book about ships and ship-wreckers,” said the boy, looking up, “and it tells about those horrible wreckers. “Let me hear something about it,” said grandpa.

And Ernest responded promptly, “Just now I was reading about the tricks they used to entice ships on the rocks. One way they did this was to take an old horse or donkey, and ties rope with a lantern fast to it, around his neck. Then they turned him loose to wander up and down on the beach. You know, grandpa, the night would be very dark and stormy, and if a ship came near enough to see the light, the captain would think it was on another vessel, and so would run on the rocks and be wrecked.”

What reason would the captain have, for thinking light was on another vessel, and not on the land?” asked grandfather.

“Why, don’t you see,” cried Ernest, “if the light was on the land it would be stationary, but on a ship it would bob up and down, and move along, which was just what this light seemed to do.”
“And yet,” remarked his grandfather, “lights are put on rocky coasts on purpose to warn ships out of danger.”

“Oh yes,” answered Ernest, “when they are up in lighthouses, standing still.”

“Did you ever think,” said his grandfather’ how those two kinds of lights are like two kinds of Christians?” “Why, no,” answered the boy, looking puzzled, “I don’t know what you mean, grandpa? “Suppose you get your Bible and turn to the fifth chapter of Matthew, the sixteenth verse.” Ernest did so, and read, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.”

“I don’t just see yet,” he said when he had finished; “Of course I know Jesus called Christians lights, but I don’t see how they can be like the swinging lantern around the donkey’s neck.”

There is one little word in that verse I want you to notice,” said his grandfather, “it is the word `so.’

It is very important how and where a Christian lets his light shine. If his actions are wrong, or he is found in places where no follower of Christ ought to be, his light is shining in a wrong place, and like the deceitful beacon, he will lead others out of the way, and on the rocks; but if, instead, he is careful of his example, his words, his actions; if he is never seen in any place where Christ’s servant should not be, then be is like the light in the lighthouse, shining far out over the ‘waves of this troublesome world,’ and guiding travelers to the. peace and safety of the Father’s home.”

Ernest read over his verse thoughtfully, then he said, “Grandpa, it would be a dreadful thing to be a false light, wouldn’t it? I hope I never will be.”

“May God grant, my dear boy,” said grandfather, “that you may be enabled by his grace, to let your light so shine, that by it men may be led to glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt 5:16). And may he keep you from the sin of ever showing your light in the wrong place.”

E. M. G., in New York Observer.
Gospel Advocate 11-17-1886