The candle of the Lord

Proverbs 20:27 “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.”

The metaphors that God uses to teach us in His Word are wonderful beyond description.  Since God created all things and had knowledge of all things man would ever create before they were made, He had the supreme wisdom to use those same things in the best possible way to create images that can teach us spiritual truth.  Therefore, whenever we see a metaphor used in the Bible, we should ponder it deeply so that God can open our eyes more and more to the wonderful truths He wants to convey to us. One such metaphor is given to us in the verse above.  Today I read a sermon based on this verse that was written by Phillips Brooks, a rector and bishop who served in the Episcopal church at various locations in Philadelphia and Boston in the mid to late 1800’s.  I share some of his thoughts here to help me to fix them in my own mind, and to pass on some of the awesome thoughts from his message.

Brooks points out that the spirit of man, the inner person, is likened to a candle in this verse from Proverbs.   That spirit’s sole purpose in life is to function as a candle “of the Lord.”  The flame of that candle, the power that it displays, comes from God Himself and God alone.  He alone is the Light of the World (John 8:12), and He alone is that holy Consuming Fire (Hebrews 12:29).  It is only as God touches a life with His fire, that that life, like a candle, can serve it’s intended purpose to bring light.  The candle submits completely to the flame, and the candle’s essence becomes part of the flame as the flame acts upon it.  In and of itself, a candle can do nothing.  But when the power of the flame touches it, it finds its purpose. It produces light – the flame’s light – but a light coming forth from the candle.

So it is with any person when God comes into his or her life.  In and of ourselves, we can do nothing (John 15:5), nothing, that is, that brings God glory and nothing that is of a nature that fulfills God’s ultimate plan and purpose for us.  Without God’s touch, we are as candles without a flame.  But when God enters our lives as we place our faith in Jesus and submit to Him as the Lord of our lives, we become like a candle that submits to a flame.  It is then, and only then, that God begins to take our lives and shine His light forth from them.

Every life, like every candle, is unique – and the action of the flame on that candle and God upon a life is unique in the way that God takes that life and brings glory to himself.  It’s a wonderful union of God with man.  And the most wonderful example of that is in the picture of the man Jesus Christ, the very Light of the World. We see Jesus in His perfect humanity, with no selfishness and no self-centeredness, with a life poured out to the glory of God.  As we see the life of Jesus, we see the life of God demonstrated in and through Him for it is the very fire and light of God that shines through His words and actions.  And that’s exactly what God would have of each and every one of us. It’s our entire reason for being. We are like candles, each unique, each with great potential to bring light to the world and influence others with that light, but unless God touches our life, that potential will, sadly, never be realized. 

Just passing on some thoughts on this wonderful metaphor from Phillips Brooks, a man, who though he left this earth over a hundred years ago, still touches the world with his words, words that were indeed his, but words that were given their light, passion, and fire, from the very Light of the World.

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