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By John Hines

The following story about Ben Franklin reminds us of what the Lord said about light and darkness. He pictured, (Mt. 5:14-16) the effect each one of His disciples can have on others: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

When Ben Franklin (1706-1790) set out to persuade the people of Philadelphia to adopt city-wide street lighting, he took an interesting approach. He did not make speeches or publish studies. He did not lobby the city government or criticize his opponents. He simply hung a lantern outside his home and lit it every evening.

Before long his neighbors noticed how nice it was to be able to see outside their houses after dark. The darkness was dispelled and there was a comforting sense of security in being able to look out and see that all was well. In time the neighbors began to hang their own lanterns and this multiplied the pleasant effect. As the light and the lanterns spread to more and more houses, the rate of participation increased dramatically. Before long the city government recognized the need for street lights throughout the city of Philadelphia. In the end, the entire city was lit, all because of a single lantern outside the home of one concerned citizen.

We have a great effect on Christians as we “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), as each one is determined to “look not out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). And we can have a great effect on those who are not Christians, “having your conduct honorable…that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:12). Who knows just how much darkness can be dispelled in the lives of men when we reflect the light of the Lord today!

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