(CCSLQ-22) – Don’t Shine

This is part of a series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. Presently a new article is posted the first Saturday of each month. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 


Don't Shine
“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.”

Who would disagree with a sentiment like this? After all it sounds a lot like something in the Bible. Specifically, this idea is found in Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV) In fact, the above quotation sounds more like someone was trying to remember that verse, or paraphrasing it.

Thus, this is another of those great quotations that someone must have thought would mean more if it was credited to someone famous (without being aware of how similar it was to the Bible). In addition to confirming it was not found in any of the available electronic Lewis works, I checked Google Books and there were no results for it at all. Not even any books claiming it was from Lewis.

When trying to track down other locations for potential locations for this quotation I found that the official Twitter account for the Tim Tebow Foundation posted this quotations on April 23, 2013. They listed the source as “Unknown.” Another place that also appeared to be from 2013 likewise gave no author’s name. However, in 2014 the saying showed up on one of the many Twitter places that has C.S. Lewis quotations and it credited the expression to Lewis. That’s the earliest I found an attribution to him, even though he never wrote it.

WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):

“Even I would gladly see “Let your light so shine before men” removed from the offertory. It sounds, in that context, so like an exhortation to do our alms that they may be seen by men.”
from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Chapter 1) 

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“It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realise for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little— however little— native luminosity?”
from The Four Loves (Chapter 6) 

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“The roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.”
from Mere Christianity (Book 2, Chapter 5)


The next quote examined is:

“Everything is different because of the Resurrection.”


Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 4/4/2016

2 comments

  1. This is a fascinating ongoing series and a service to fans of C.S. Lewis.

    Coincidentally, the post I’m putting up on Monday relates to Lewis’ anthology of George MacDonald writings. I’m pretty sure that all 365 of his selections are 100% accurate!

  2. William OFlaherty /

    Thanks for your kind words, Rob! If all goes well (sadly speaking, of course), there are more quotations to cover. Also, I’m exploring the possibility of expanding the topic to explore myths about Lewis in general that would give me enough material for a full-length book.