He said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? … Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you… The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.” (Mark 4:21-27)
When you are the Lord, not only your statements are authoritative but your questions too. That means when Jesus asks you, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket?,” you think about it, and when you figure out the answer, you obey it. And the answer Jesus is looking for to this rhetorical question is, “no.” It is ludicrous to light a lamp and then snuff out its light under any kind of covering. A light is meant to be functional, to bring everything around it out of darkness. A light is lit for no other reason than to use.
This is why, a few verses later, Jesus says that He will measure out more (He doesn’t specify more what, so you have to think about that) to you according to the measure that you “use” (v.24). I have to presume that Jesus is still referring in some way to the light. “Use” the light you have, and He will dole out more to you. Don’t use it, and even what you have will be taken away after a while.
The curious thing is that God-rejecters, who have chosen gods of self-indulgence, self-promotion, sex, and entertainment, do not “hide” their “light” under a basket. In a restaurant you may find Christians sheepishly praying before a meal, but the children of this world are not embarrassed at all and do not muffle their voices. Why does the embarrassment run only in one direction?
Nevertheless, if a Christian is willing to be open about his faith—to shine his light without worrying about the opinion of unbelievers—Jesus here gives to him the encouragement of the farmer who scatters seed. The farmer has done a very little thing—just thrown a few seeds into the ground. Likewise, the person who speaks God’s truth publicly in this increasingly coarse world is just throwing out a few words. Seeds and words are so insignificant-looking, so unpromising to behold. But just as the seed of the farmer performs an almost magical germination in the womb of the earth, so the words of truth aspirated into the ether can be counted on to germinate in some hearts of those who hear, though it may not seem like anything is going on.
Keep shining, then. Be light. Be salt. No lamps under baskets.