As Christians, we’re called to be salt and light to the world. Matthew 5:16 says:
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” NIV
It’s about our lives shining with a light that points to God.
In Exodus 34, Moses came down from Mount Sinai after spending time alone with God, and his face was physically glowing! It’s one of my favourite Bible stories, because it’s an extreme example of what we should all be aiming for every day!
While we might not get an actual halo, we can learn a lot from Moses about shining God’s light.
1. We look like what we look at
Have you ever had a friend who used a certain word or phrase all the time, and suddenly you started saying it too? Or have you heard someone’s terrible taste in music for so long you actually started to enjoy it? Or hung around with a real gossip until you realised you were doing the same? We know that we become like the people we spend time with. Proverbs 13:20 says:
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” NLT
So if we become like those we’re close to, guess who we have to spend more time with in order to look like God!
Moses was alone with God for very long stretches. More than once Moses fasted and prayed for 40 days at a time. God spoke to Moses directly, and even allowed Moses to see some of His glory. It was real, close, protracted fellowship with God that gave Moses God’s glow.
While it’s not practical for us to spend 40 days just solidly chatting to God, there is always more we can do to draw closer to Him. If you pray for 15 minutes per day, pray for 30 and you’ve already doubled your contact time! Wouldn’t it be great to double your likeness to God?
2. We need Moses Motives
Reflecting God’s glory gave Moses authority. When he gave the Israelites instructions, they knew from the radiant glow of his face that he’d been talking directly to God, and they listened! What a great gift to ask God for, especially as a leader! But Moses never asked for that gift. In fact, he didn’t ask God for any gifts at all. Moses wanted two things:
1. For God to forgive his people (Ex. 32:12):
“Turn away from your fierce anger.” NLT
2. For God to reveal himself (Ex. 33:18):
“Show me your glorious presence.” NLT
It was never Moses’ desire to shine. What he asked was to see God, and to see his people saved.
What is it you’re asking God for, and why? Are you asking to excel at something, or to be noticed by people? Or are you asking God to reveal himself to you more?
It’s right to want God’s spiritual gifts; Paul tells us we should ‘eagerly desire’ them (1 Corinth. 14:1). But if we want them for our own glory instead of God’s, we’ve got it all wrong.
3. Use it, don’t abuse it
We’ve established that Moses’ brightness was a source of real authority for him, so it’s pretty amazing to read that he actually went around wearing a veil! He only took off that veil when he was giving a message directly from God to the people.
Moses could have used the gift God gave him to exert his own influence over people, but instead he used it only to do God’s will. He could have used it to raise himself above others, but instead he used it to raise everyone together.
What talents and gifts do you have? Now, honestly, do you use them to raise everyone up or to get yourself ahead? Are you serving God and the community, or are you serving yourself?
I wonder how long Moses’ face would have shone if he’d tried to use it for his own benefit.
4. You can’t see your own face
When Moses came down from the mountain, Exodus 34:29 tells us:
“he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord” NLT
Moses was glowing like God and he didn’t even know it!
You know, the only face we can’t see clearly is our own. We just don’t see ourselves the way others see us. We tend either to big ourselves up internally, thinking we’re better than we are, or else we do ourselves down. It’s not always arrogance or low self-esteem, it’s just that we can’t get a clear, objective, view of ourselves.
In reality, if you think your face is shining with God’s radiance, it’s probably just blazing with your own ego.
5. In fact, stop considering your own face at all
Maybe another reason Moses didn’t recognise God’s radiance on his face is because he wasn’t even thinking about his own face!
When Moses prayed to God, it wasn’t about himself. Moses was interceding on behalf of his people, begging God to forgive them. In fact, he even prayed that God would give their punishment to him (Exodus 32:32)!
Selfishness is the exact opposite of God, and we cannot get close to Him when we’re just considering ourselves. There’s no way that Moses could have reflected God after 40 days of selfish prayers! It took real Christ-like altruism to have such close fellowship with God.
If we stopped checking our own faces to see whether they’re bright and shiny enough, and focused on the needs of the world around us, we’d find that we reflected God far more.