“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
When reading the Sermon on the Mount, we should remember that it is a single message. Our Bibles divide it into chapters and verses, with some editions inserting headings between different portions. Rarely will a church read Matthew 5-7 in its entirety during a single worship service or as part of a sermon; instead, we usually break it up into smaller segments. This helps us digest its teaching as we absorb smaller portions. However, it can tempt us to read one part of the Sermon without recognizing its connection to the preceding or following statements. Breaking Scripture down into more manageable portions might make Bible study easier, but it can give us the false impression that each passage is more self-contained than it really is.
Hence, let us remember that Jesus’ metaphors of light and salt follow the Beatitudes and build upon them. We must not overlook the connection between the Beatitudes and what follows. In the Beatitudes, Jesus described the kind of person whom God will bless. He warned His disciples that persecution would be inevitable. Now, He would tell them, and us, how to act in the face of a hostile culture.
Jesus compared the “blessed ones” of the Beatitudes with salt and light. Salt is a preservative and seasoning, and in Jesus’ time, it was a precious commodity. As we live out our blessed qualities, we season the world around us. We must maintain our purity to scatter the blessings of God’s presence in our lives to the people around us.
We are also light. Jesus calls us to provide a pathway by which people can find their way to the Lord. In ancient times, people might need to carry a lantern or torch to find their way through the darkness. Today, if you are walking through a forest at night—perhaps while camping—you might need a flashlight to find your way around. Many of the people we know are aimlessly wandering in spiritual darkness. They need light to find their way to Christ, salvation, and everlasting life. We are that light. As we obey Him, we provide a lamp that people can use to find their way to Christ. “Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Our mission is not to convince people that we are great people. Our mission is to point others to Christ, through our words, actions, and attitudes. There is a risk that they will reject us and we will face persecution, because they may refuse to welcome Jesus as Lord of their lives. But, as we follow Him, some people will join us on our journey. If we reflect His glory, some people will be drawn to Him through us. Our spiritual family, the Body of Christ, will grow because we shared His salt and light with them. It will give our lives direction, purpose, meaning, and eternal blessing.
Lord God, You called us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Guide us to share Your goodness and light in a dark world so that people may see our good works and look to You for life and purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
What does it mean to you to be “salt” and “light”? What are some ways that you can act as the salt of the earth and share the light of the world with those around you? Share your thoughts below.
Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.