“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew chapter 5:13-16).
One of the hardest things to learn as Christians is that we are to have an effect on the world without letting the world affect us. Jesus of course set the ultimate example, He came in to the world and affected it for the last 2000 years yet it had no effect on Him. It did not change Him in any way shape or form.
One of the greatest examples of the being light in a dark world is Daniel. He was able to be light in the middle of a foreign land, foreign culture and in a foreign religion. He stood firm for the truth and lived openly for the Lord. What an example he and his three Hebrew friends set for us. There are some things that we are going to see in this short but powerful passage; things that will make us check our walk with the Lord.
I think that this is what the Beatitudes are really all about. God has given us a tangible measure to gauge our walk with the Lord. These few verses here are the summary of what our lives will be like if we lived out the Beatitudes, we would be “Salt” and “Light.” These would be the natural fruits of living the Beatitude lifestyle. So let us take a look at what we are supposed to be.
Salt, Verse 13
Salt has become somewhat demonized in our time. Salt has been abused by processed food manufacturers leading to many diseases. But salt is essential to life on this planet. First of all salt preserves; over the years before refrigeration, salt was used to protect foods, like meat, from spoiling on long journeys.
We still have that today; foods like corned beef are simply salted foods that help in their preservation over long periods of time. Likewise we preserve the world. It began eroding on the very day that Adam and Eve sinned and we keep that erosion in check. In 2 Thessalonians 2: 7, we see these words about preservation:
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way.”
Salt cleans; often salt was put into wounds to kill the bacteria and to cleanse a wound. It is still very effective today. Salt on a wound will quickly kill bacteria and help the wound to heal. Do you and I have a cleaning effect on the people we work with? Do we participate in crude and rude jokes or conversation?
Do we swear and use the Lord’s name improperly? Do we accredit our successes to luck and hard work rather than to the grace of God? Do we speak the truth at work even if we stand out like a sore thumb? Do we seek to fit in and mould to the people at work or are we a healing salve to them.
Do we humbly live for the Lord and offer them a viable alternative to the life they are living now? Sadly too many of us want to fit in with the worldly life rather than stand out. We want to be conformed to the world rather than transformed. Our speech, mannerisms and behavior add to the infections of society and do nothing to kill off the germs.
Salt flavors; it makes things taste good. Too much can be a bad thing but in the right amounts and in the right hands it brings out the flavors of the foods that we enjoy. Do you and I flavor the lives of the people that we live with and around?
Do we help them to taste the best that life in Jesus has to offer? All too often we leave people with a bitter taste about being a Christian. Jesus made it clear that we are to be known by our love one for another (John 13:34-35).
Sadly, too many of us are the most loveless people most people ever meet. We constantly point out the faults of other and belittle them rather than love them. We are told that God so loved the world He provided away to cover sins and open a door for people to have fellowship with Him. But we push people away from the same God who is trying to draw them.
This does not mean we don’t tell the truth or call sin as it is. But we must earn the right to be frank with people by the way that we love them and show them that God loves them. Most people know that what they are doing is wrong or if it is sinful.
What they need is someone to love them when they can’t find a way to love themselves. They need someone to give them some hope in a hopeless world. That is what we are here for, to offer them life from God, the abundant life that never runs out, ever.
Salt is essential to life; your body needs salt to run its electrical systems and to make everything work right. The world system needs us. It needs our honesty and integrity to keep things honest. It needs us to stand for right in a world bent on making wrong to be right. It needs us to raise children that aid the world and make a difference.
The world needs us to keep it working right and God blessing it. Without us in the world God has no reason to bless them and send loving gifts to them. All too often we have made ourselves irrelevant by not adding to anyone’s life. We live in obscurity rather than openly righteous. We simply blend in and people get accustomed to living without us. We have cheated ourselves out of a wonderful place of being needed.
Are you salt to the people around you? Do you preserve them, bring flavor their lives? Are you a source of healing and balm? Are you essential the lives of the people you serve and love? God wants you to be all these things because He is all these things to people; and we represent Him and His kingdom.
Light, Verse 14
We are also called to be light. Light dispels darkness. This is the most important aspect of light, it dispels darkness. Darkness is just the absence of light. We live in a dark world, filled with the systems of evil just lurking around the corner waiting for unsuspecting people to pounce on. Our job as Christians is to be light sources.
Can anyone remember being a kid and having a night light? Some may. That night light was a source of comfort. It was a blessing if you had to go to the washroom, you could do so without all the overhead lights. It was amazing how such a small light could make such a big difference.
Let us apply this to us, we often feel like if we can’t make a difference, we are too small. We think we have no influence but even a small bit of light can and does make a difference to people. Not every light needs to be a beacon or a light house; some of us are called to be night lights to one or two people. We are there to be source of comfort and to offer sight to navigate this dark world we live in.
In John 8:12 Jesus said that He was the light of the world. He then should shine through us and be light to those that are around us. A compliment to this is that in John 14:6 Jesus said that He is the Way. Light helps us to find the way. It helps us to see and we are called to be lights so that others can see the way. Matthew 5:16:
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We all know this verse from Sunday school, but do we live it. We are to live as beacons pointing people to Jesus. Jesus makes the point that no one lights candle and then covers it so that it cannot give off light. In like manner we should not cover the light of Jesus in us either by our lifestyle or by living as what I like to call “undercover” Christians.
We are called to live openly visible Christian lives. Sadly, too many are ashamed of the name of Christ and prefer to behave like they live in darkness when the Light of the world lives in them. This is a disingenuous life, a life of lies that simply defeats the purpose of Christ dying. He died to save us, so that we can in turn point others to Him so that He can save them, so that they can point others to Him. This is how it works.
The way to turn on the switch and be the light that Jesus calls you and me to be is to live out the Beatitudes. Read them, memorize them, practice them and be light. You will see how God will bring people to you so that you can show them the way to Him. God will bring those in darkness to you since you are a source of His light. All it takes is one candle to light many others. Your flame can be the catalyst that God can use to win many souls to Him and win many who are on their way to hell, trapped in darkness.