3 Ways to Keep Your Shine From Blinding

This word, SHINE, has been giving me a run for my money and I’m loving every minute spent wrestling over meanings, nuances, and applications. But this week’s question has long plagued me: Can Christians Shine Too Bright?

I know you’re hoping I’ll say, “No way. The brighter the better.” But instead I want to look at this idea from another angle.

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Do You Need a Dimmer Switch?

Have you ever had someone switch on an overhead light before you were ready? It hurts, right? Maybe you instinctively covered your eyes to shield them from the brightness. Or perhaps you were even temporarily blinded by the light.

Like most things in life, I can take Christian imperatives to the extreme. If the Bible says rejoice, I’m going to be joyful to the max. When the Word says write the commandments on your door posts … well, you should see some of the art on the walls in our home. If Jesus says shine, I’ll aim to be the shiniest bulb around.

I can be an overachiever like that. You, too? But I don’t think becoming a superlative is the mark of success in shining. I’ve come across plenty of Christians who could use a dimmer switch. Maybe even me, on occasion.

Shining or Blinding?

There is a delicate balance between shining and blinding. We shine too bright when we try too hard, when we’re more focused on results than relationships, when we worry more about what we’re saying than what the Word says (ouch), when we shout from afar instead of gathering together, when we talk more than we serve, and when we forget revelation is the work of the Spirit.

You might disagree with me, but I believe we have an obligation to tailor our tactics to keep from blinding those in darkness. We must be cognizant of how our shine is received. There’s nothing loving about blinding someone with the light. (Unless of course you’re Jesus blinding Paul on the road to Damascus.) After all, the goal of our shining is so that others will glorify God. Truly only the devil wins when we shine too bright and blind unbelievers to the truth. This isn’t about hiding our light, but about shining it just right.

If we make a conscious effort to properly adjust the dimmer switch in these three areas we’ll be sure to shine without blinding.

Law and Gospel

Words and Works

Relationships and Results

Law and Gospel

As a little girl, I got a whole lot of law and for a long time it blinded me to the gospel. So maybe that’s why I’m so sensitive to the shine ignited by law.

Christians who shine too bright with law say things like:

     “Jesus didn’t sugar-coat the truth. Why should I?”

     “Sharing the truth is the most loving thing I can do.”

     “Sometimes the truth hurts.”

     “The Bible says if I love the Lord I should hate evil.”

     “Jesus said He didn’t come to do away with the law.”

     “The Word of God is our offensive weapon.”

     “Jesus told that woman to sin no more.”

But, Christians can shine too bright with the gospel, too. Sometimes they say things like:Keep Your Shine from Blinding

     “Jesus died for sinners not saints.”

     “God loves everybody.”

     “Grace is greater than any sin.”

     “Jesus refused to condemn that woman.”

     “We all fall short.”

     “Grace covers all sin.”

     “Jesus ate with the worst of the worst.”

     “God only sees Jesus when He sees us.”

And they are both right.

All those statements are true. But either end of the spectrum is only half the truth. We don’t shine with God’s full glory by only sharing half His story.

We don’t shine with God’s full glory by only sharing half His story. #shine #dontshinetoobright Click To Tweet

If we shine too much law, people lose sight of God’s love. If we shine too much gospel, they might be given over to lawlessness. If our focus is too heavy on the law, we bring condemnation along with the implication that our behavior has some bearing on our salvation. But ceasing sin never saved anyone. Certainly only Jesus’s sacrifice is sufficient for salvation. Yet, if our focus is too gospel heavy, we suggest God is not burdened by our bad behavior.

Neither extreme is adequate. Law alone blinds people to hope of salvation. Gospel alone blinds people to their need for a Savior. Shining too bright with either law or gospel blinds people to the truth. Jesus fulfilled both law and gospel.

Knowing how much law and gospel to apply keeps us from shining too bright.

We don’t shine with God’s full glory by only sharing half His story. #shine #dontshinetoobright Click To Tweet

Words and Works

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes that’s true, but all the charitable deeds we do are worthless without the Word. Yet, if I speak and do not act on the truth I share, my words are null and void.

Jesus gave weight to His words through His works. He taught the people in a language they would understand, not a bunch of words that made Him sound smart. He tended to the physical needs of the people, not just their spiritual. But He always conveyed what people needed to know. Maybe they didn’t get it in the moment. But when they saw Him hang on the cross, when they looked in the empty tomb, when they touched His wounds, when they watched Him ascend, and when He sent the Holy Spirit upon them, they got it. He backed up His words with works.

The Word may be our only offensive weapon, but it is the Spirit’s job to wield it. Not mine. His job to convict and convert. Mine to love. We shine too bright when we use the word to wound instead of heal.

This is a little scary for a woman whose work is words, but I think sometimes we need to employ fewer words and more works in order to shine just right as Christians. The Word itself says it is living and active. So shouldn’t we be, too? After all, Matthew 5:16 says people would see our good works, not our good words. When they notice our works, we can point them back to the Word.

Knowing when to speak and when to act keeps us from shining too bright.

Relationships and Results

Jesus could have just preached the Word from the roof of the Temple, but He didn’t. He got to know people. He came to walk among us. Jesus didn’t force anybody to see His truth through words alone. He gradually revealed it by His actions and through His relationships with people.

Jesus knew just what people needed.

Now you may be saying, “Well of course He did. Duh, Liz. He was Jesus.”

“And I am not.”

But Jesus modeled His method for us in His ministry. If all that mattered was results, He could have simply headed straight to the cross after Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Jesus knew what people needed because He got to know people. They mattered to Him. He did life with them. He sat down at the table and had real conversations with people. He knew their needs and met them with just the right amount of light to produce results.

Our shine blinds people to the truth when we are too focused on finding friends OR too religious about rendering results. To shine just right, we establish relationships with genuine interest and love while understanding the purpose of these relationships is ultimately to glorify God.

Without relationship there can be no results. As we get to know others, we learn what they need to hear or see or feel. And as we work to meet those needs, the power of the Holy Spirit works in their hearts to produce results. Did you catch that? Results aren’t really even our responsibility. Our actions may be able to blind people to the light, but it is only the Holy Spirit that helps them see it.

Keep Your Shine From Blinding

Knowing real relationships are required for eternal results keeps us from shining too bright.

Set Your Dimmer Switch

Our shine is just right when it provides enough light for the Holy Spirit to lead people out of darkness. 

We shine too bright when we take an either or approach to evangelism. It is both law and gospel. It is both works and words. It is both relationships and results. Knowing how and when to apply just the right amount of them has eternal significance.

3 ways to Keep Your Shine from Blinding

  1. Know People’s Needs
  2. Apply Law and Gospel Appropriately
  3. Weight our Words with Works

Lord, May my shine never blind anyone to the Light of the World. Amen.

Have you ever had anybody blind you with their light? Do you know any tricks to shining at just the right brightness?

Shining is less about our brightness, and more about our love. And that’s what we’re talking about next week!

Dear Christian, does your #shine need a dimmer switch? Click To Tweet

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Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerFaith On FireSusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridaySoul SurvivalRah Rah Link UpTell His StorySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market FridaySalt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday.

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Keep Your Shine From Blinding

34 thoughts on “3 Ways to Keep Your Shine From Blinding

  1. YES! This is an excellent way to explain how we have a tendency to “over-shine”. Thank you for speaking to this since I have not heard it addressed quite like this before now. Love before legality!

    1. Thanks, Anji! This was all God… I don’t know what He’s doing with my words anymore… 😉 I just know before I understood the gospel, there were Christians who scared me off. No doubt they were following Jesus’s command to go and make disciples, but they didn’t seem to care how their shine was received, which implies little love for me. I’d love to bring more awareness to this idea so we quit blinding others to the Light!

  2. What great insight Liz! I often find myself reflecting on how our Christian walk is so much about balance. We can be doing something good in ministry, yet be out of balance if we are neglecting our family. Or we could be so focused on family, we neglect ministry. Blessings to you!

    1. Interesting perspective! I think it’s also important to notice that balance looks different depending on our season of life. I’m so glad I have God to guide me through all life’s challenges! Blessings, Valerie!

  3. I love this, Liz! We are at a duty station where I have more unsaved friends than I’ve had before. Finding that place where I can be an effective light for Jesus and an empathetic friend to another human being has sometimes felt like I’d have to compromise. In reality it isn’t. It’s putting a dimmer on the shine and being more conscious of others’ needs while weighting my words with my works. Thank you for putting lessons I’m learning into such eloquent words once again!

    1. Oh, Val! I have the utmost confidence that you are a beautiful blessings to all those in your community! I think it comes down to centering our evangelical efforts on the needs of others. Really loving people instead of just trying to shine on them! I miss you, friend! XOXO

  4. Liz, these are thoughts that have flitted through my mind before, but I’ve never given them a good hard look. This is such a helpful distinction to make in our dealings with others.
    Blessings to you. Thanks for all your good thoughts.

  5. Just yesterday at Bible study, we were reminded of how hard it we make it sometimes for people to accept and respond positively to the Gospel. Thanks for sharing this timely message, Liz. Blessings to you.

    1. Fascinating! I’d love to hear about their response if you share this post with them! I really want to know what others thing about this topic, because I don’t think it’s one we talk about enough! Blessings!

      1. OK, so I asked, and was told that it’s really about how we choose to live as Christians. We could shine in a way that repels people from us (then, how would we be able to tell them about Jesus?) Or we could shine in a way that draws people to us, and makes them willing to hear our testimony about Jesus (because they want to know what is so different about you). May God help us continually live to bring glory to Him.

  6. So good! I once heard someone say that we need to speak the truth but we need to do it in love. I think that statement fits well with your analogy to shine, not blind. Thanks for sharing! Your neighbor at #raralinkup

    1. I agree. It is actually Scriptural, Ephesians 4:15. But I’ve heard very combative and legalistic Christians claim that speaking truth was loving. I think they miss the point of our witness. Blessings as you shine!

  7. Sin is embarrassing, but when you try to look better than you are you just make yourself look like a hypocrit. And that doesn’t attract anyone to the Gospel. Christians are no better than anyone else, we just have a friend in high places. Perhaps if we allowed the truth to come out He could shine instead of us.

  8. I feel this is a balance I am constantly trying to find. For example, how to be a caring friend to someone who just wants to vent about everything all the time? I want to give advice and help them get their life right, but they just want a listening ear. At the end of the day it is about compassion: what is truly best for this person right now? It can be so hard sometimes too figure this out in real life situations! I’m glad I’m not alone!

  9. Love this fresh word, Liz. To be honest, I wondered at the beginning if I would be able to see this from your angle. But I totally agree. I once was blind ;-), but now I “see” that: the law can blind or overshadow the gospel, charitable deeds are useless without God’s Word, and relationships and results go hand-in-hand because they always work together. Blessings! Visiting from By HIs Grace Bloggers.

    1. I’m so glad you continued reading with an open mind, Karen! I absolutely agonized over this post… It felt so big and scary to me and God kept peeling back the layers and editing my thoughts. I pray He shows you how to keep shining just right! Blessings to you!

  10. This very topic has been on my mind a lot lately, just in the “speak truth in love” way. I hear that phrase all the time, but no one ever explains how you do that. It clicks now after reading your post.

    Thank you for your post! I’m so glad I found you on the Grace and Truth linkup.

    1. Right! I have seen combative Christians claim to be loving simply by speaking truth, but their rants are far from loving and probably only serve to give Christians a bad name. It’s such a shame. I’m glad you found these words, too! Blessings as you shine!

  11. Liz, what a great post. And, so thorough. Thanks for taking the time to listen to God and write that. — My husband is a Messianic Jew, and he has a lot of Jewish friends. He has to employ the “dimmer switch,” because they would immediately tune him out and he’d never have any (gospel) influence on them. It’s a slow process sometimes, but like you said, the results don’t belong to us, only the work. — Loved this, thanks for sharing, friend. xoxo

  12. This makes sense, Liz. It’s so easy to get into the ditch on either side of an issue. Now to remember that everyone is at a different place in their understanding of these things and not to judge them if I think they’re blinding their light. And may God show me if I’m doing that anywhere. My husband and I try to keep a balanced mindset and often talk things through and see what the Word says.

  13. I really like how you explained your idea. When I clicked on the title, I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about – then I saw your picture and knew I’d like what you had to say;) Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth.

    1. Ha, thanks, Aimee… I couldn’t have imagined writing this piece a month ago. God has really been challenging me as I’ve studied this word! Blessings to you!

  14. Love your perspective, and so artfully written too! You are a gifted wordsmith for sure!
    God has been teaching me these past few years that humility is key to proper shine. If I’m shining so that everyone sees how shiny I am, I will certainly blind everyone. BUT… if I understand that on my own, there isn’t any shine at all – that the shine is only a reflection of Christ in me, then it will be tempered with His perfection. It will never blind.
    Thanks for sharing this Liz!

    1. Well, you’ve just summed up most of my series right here, Esther! LOL! Thanks for your encouraging words. God is really challenging and growing me! Blessings!

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