12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
It’s probably the most-frequently used reference in modern American politics—the reference to America as a “city upon a hill.” Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama all quoted it, as well as many other leaders. It’s a reference to the words of the Puritan John Winthrop based on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16).
The core of Jesus’ words on this subject are found in verse 14: “You are the light of the world.” The paradox of these words is that He later says that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). What He meant was that when His light is in us, we too become the light of the world. He lightens the world through us! We become like a brightly lit city on top of a hill, a guide and source for others. In the streets, our light is revealed by our good works which causes others to offer praise directed to God.
Do you want to be a light to the world? Make sure there is no cloud of sin or darkness blocking the light of Jesus Christ in you.
Light reveals righteousness, and it also reveals sin.
~ Theodore Epp