In the same way, that light should not be hidden but should light up the room, or city on a hill cannot be hidden, we are to let our light shine. There is no reason that anyone should not be able to tell that you are a Christian.
Jesus says that what should be seen are the good deeds that we perform. In the same sermon, Jesus will admonish his disciples to give, pray, and fast in secret, not practicing our righteousness before others in order to be seen (Mt 6:1-19). The key here is glory. Who gets the glory when our righteousness is noticed by others? Sometimes we will be praised by men for what we do for God. Fine. But the attitude of our hearts in the deed is what is important.
Jesus’ instruction is to take on his identity in his Father in Heaven. God intends for the world to be able to see him by his reflection in his people. Live righteously for God’s sake. Do nothing out of selfish ambition (Phil 2:3). Surely not everyone will want to see the light of God. It is too bright for those who hate and deny him. Jesus knows that some people will hate you for the same things for which others glorify you.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 5:16
#1 “In the same way,”
As a city on a hill cannot be hidden, or a lamp in a room should not be hidden, let your light shine. It should be obvious by your actions that you belong to Christ.
#2 “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds…”
Those who seek the praise of men will receive no other reward, but those who live unto God before the world will reflect God to a hurting planet and be rewarded in Heaven. Be like the disciples in Acts 4:13 it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Live in such a way that others “take note” that you have been with Jesus.
#3 “and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Again, this is the key behind the motive of living out the Christian life and the instruction of Christ before others. Those with eyes to see will glorify God in Heaven. Anything done for the glory of God will lead to reward in the next life, but also will result in abundant life in this one. Seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33) and have perfect peace. You will be like a city on a hill, unable to be hidden.