Hiding a Lamp

This entry is part 468 of 470 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Lukas Baumert from Pixabay

What is the meaning of St. Luke 8:16?

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”” (Luke 8:16–18, ESV)

In this teaching of Jesus, there are references to two ideas. The first is not hiding the light. The second is what he says in Luke 8:18, that God rewards those two are good stewards of what they have been given by God.

Covering a lamp or a light with a jar refers to not using it for its intended purpose. Lamps are designed to give light to the house. When you cover it with a jar or put it under a bed, it doesn’t do what God designed it to do. It can’t provide light if it is covered up.

When we think of a jar, our first impression is a glass jar, but this refers to earthen vessels, jars made of clay. So putting a jar over the lamp would hide almost all of the light the lamp would give. This teaching happens as Jesus has been talking about his disciples being lights of the world.

We’re not supposed to hide the light. When we evangelize, we preach the gospel with actions and words. We don’t hide the gospel away from people. We shine our light, provided the example and the testimony of what Jesus does in our lives.

Another way you can understand this idea of hiding the light is that we can’t hide sins or speak anything in the dark or in secret. What we say and do that we think nobody else knows about will be exposed to the light. People will see what you say and do, even if you think they don’t. God sees everything that we do whether it is in secret or in public.

Finally, Luke 8:18 speaks to the matter of stewardship. Jesus says those who have will be given more and those who don’t have, even what they think they have will be taken from them. Some people think they have something they don’t.

They abuse the gifts of God and think they own everything. But the Bible teaches that God owns everything and he entrusts his things to us. It is up to us to steward and manage them with wisdom. Jesus further explains this in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The same principle is played out in that parable.

When we abuse the things God entrusts to us, he will take them away and give them to people who are using godly wisdom to steward his possessions. But when we are faithful to manage what God blesses us with, we will continue to see his blessing and favor.

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