BE THE MATCH THAT LIGHTS A CANDLE
By DANNY MINTON
You’re in a dark room. You take a match and strike it. You can hold the match on the end and watch as it slowly burns down to almost the tips of your fingers and then, as it nears the end, blow it out. At that point, the match is blackened and useless never to be used again to bring light. It is tossed away, ground underfoot, and the room again is in the dark.
You’re in a dark room. You take a match and strike it. You place the flame of the match and light a candle. The match burns down, becomes useless and no longer brings light, and is thrown away, but the light remains because the match has shared its flame with the candle.
You’re in a room lit by the candle in your hand. The person next to you has a candle, but it is dark. You tilt your candle toward theirs, and the wick of their candle takes life, but your’s remains bright even having shared a part of its flame with your neighbor’s candle.
With the light of the two candles, you notice that the room is full of people with unlit candles. You and your neighbor light other candles and in turn others share their light. However, each time the light is shared, it never takes from the candle who shared but only adds to the light in the room.
You’re in a candlelit room. The light is so bright the room is well lit. You look on the floor, and there lies one burned out match. Then you realize that that one match, although it lit only one candle spread its light to all the others who had been in the dark.
We live in a world with many people who are holding an unlit candle. Maybe they are mourning the death of a loved one. Maybe their marriage is struggling. Maybe their job is on the line. Maybe they’re lonely. Maybe they’re just depressed. But mostly their day is just like being in a dark room.
We stand with candle lit by the match on the floor. We have light and feel good. So we reach over and give a word of encouragement to the person next to us, and that one little word, that simple phrase or that one act of kindness ignites their candle. From there the encouragement spreads to someone else when he says “I know what you’re going through.” And it continues from person to person.
Encouragement is a simple thing to give. I helped a lady recently with a doctor appointment. “I just love my church,” she said. I had lit her candle. She told her parents, and they expressed how much this church meant to them. She had lit their candle. I held the hand of the son of a member who was dying from AIDS. She was in tears and thanked me many times over. Her candle had been lit with someone caring.
We each hold in our hands a match. It is the match of encouragement. We can let it burn down or light a candle that brings light enough to be shared throughout the room. The choice is up to us.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.–Matthew 5:15
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ