A Bright Candle

This is a translation from the Russian book of scriptural meditations, “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “When a candle is lit, it is not put under a bowl, but on a candlestick, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Mat. 5, 15)


"The word of God often teaches us to serve as a light for the world. “You are the light of the world”, says Jesus to his disciples, and “I am the light of the world”, He says about himself; and St. Paul compares his brothers in Christ to “lights in the world” (Phil. 2, 15).

"But this general rule is described more precisely and more distinctly in the above text: “and gives light to everyone in the house”. Our first and foremost obligations are to our brethren that are close to us, to those in our household, and we must first of all give light to them.

"People often are loath to confine themselves to such limited activity, which they consider too small and insignificant. They seek glory and fame, they want to be beacons which shine far across the sea of life, or a bright light which saves legions of their perishing brethren. They despise the humble lot of a lamp which shines in a bleak corner and throws its weak light on an obscure toiler. But they wrongly neglect this weak light. Isn’t a hand stretched out to help our younger brethren, or a word of comfort, given to a person on his deathbed and throwing a final ray of light on his earthly suffering, worth more than the great fame which we seek?

"Many people imagine that the fruits of their Christian path must spread far beyond their families. On the contrary, it is here that we will find their true fulfillment.

"Remember that Martha, with her worldly concerns, also came to the feet of Jesus, whom Mary was already listening to.

“Everyone, within the circle of people closest to him, no matter how humble and inconspicuous the circle is, no matter how small, must exercise those Christian virtues which are demonstrated in a good family man, a loving mother, and obedient children. They adorn family life, smoothing out all the rough spots of our earthly path and shedding on all the surroundings a bright light which ‘gives light to everyone in the house’. It warms everyone because its source is the love which comes from God Himself.”

And this is what Screwtape writes to Wormwood about the family of the woman his “patient” has fallen in love with (Letter 22):

"Then, of course, he gets to know this woman’s family and whole circle. Could you not see that the very house she lives in is one that he ought never to have entered? The whole place reeks of that deadly odour. The very gardener, though he has only been there five years, is beginning to acquire it. Even guests, after a weekend visit, carry some of the smell away with them. The dog and the cat are tainted with it. And a house full of the impenetrable mystery. We are certain (it is a matter of first principles) that each member of the family must in some way be making capital out of the others – but we can’t find out how. They guard as jealously as the Enemy Himself the secret of what really lies behind this pretense of disinterested love. The whole house and garden is one vast obscenity. It bears a sickening resemblance to the description one human writer made of heaven: ‘the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence’ "

P.S. That “human writer” is George MacDonald.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)