Stay where God puts you
No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
The kind of lamp Jesus spoke of provided light by burning oil. A lamp placed under a jar would be extinguished for lack of oxygen. A lamp placed under a bed could set the bed on fire.
We live in a world that is in spiritual darkness because of sin. Christians are God’s lamps to provide light to the world. Each of us has been placed in a specific place so that we can reveal God’s light to others, but unlike oil lamps we can choose whether or not we will remain in the place God has put us.
God’s servants have sometimes disobeyed God and failed to fulfill their function of providing light for the world.
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”
But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed.
And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it.
And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”
Peter’s failure corresponds to placing a lamp under a jar. Those around him remained is darkness.
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.
Jonah’s sin is more like placing a lamp under a bed. He not only failed to be a light to those around him but also brought on them a danger they wouldn’t have faced otherwise.
Both Peter and Jonah had been faithful servants in the past but their past faithfulness didn’t shield them from the consequences of their present disobedience. If they could fail certainly any of us could too.
On the other hand their failures didn’t keep them from being used by God after they repented of their sins and went back to obeying God. Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved; later he was the first to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Jonah finally obeyed God’s command to preach to Nineveh and the whole city repented.
The experience of these two men should serve as both a warning and an encouragement. No matter how well we have served God in the past we can fail if we stop being obedient; if we have failed and are no longer fulfilling our function of being a light for the world we can still repent and be restored.