(Today's entry in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)
“Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed”
No one would think of doing such a thing. People always set a lamp where it will give the most light. It would be very absurd to cover it up so that its beams could not pour out. Yet that is just what a great many people do with their Christian life. It is a very striking figure, this that our Lord uses when describing Christians. He calls them lights, lamps, candles, which He lights with the fire of His own life when they believe on Him. There is much difference in the brightness of the light in different believers. Some are only little tapers; others are great lights. But even a taper makes one spot a little brighter.
The point of our Lord’s teaching here is that the light is not to be hidden or covered up, but permitted to shine. Yet some people do indeed put their candle under a bushel. They carry it so that it never gives light to others. Sometimes they hide it away under an imagined modesty or humility. They do not want to “put themselves forward,” it would seem presumptuous.
Sometimes it is the “bushel” of timidity or bashfulness under which they hide their light. One cannot rise to say a word in the prayer meeting; another cannot even conduct family worship in the midst of his own household; another cannot talk to a neighbour about his soul; another cannot stand up to make a public confession of Christ before the world; another cannot go to call on a poor family or sick person, or to offer consolation to one in sorrow, all because they are “too backward.” Some again hide their candle under a very imperfect life. Their faults obscure the light of the religious knowledge they possess, as a dirty glass chimney dims a lamp’s shining. There are a great many lamps hidden away under bushels which ought to be shining to some purpose