“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:13-16, NIV).
After several verses on persecution (Matthew 5:10-12), Jesus portrays the effects his followers ought to have on the world around them. Like salt and light, which are useful only when properly applied, our lives bring praise to God only as we acknowledge Jesus as Lord, submit ourselves to his active leadership, and then mix and mingle in the world. Just as salt and the lamp are objects to be used for a purpose – one enhancing flavour and the other providing visibility in a dark place – our lives are intended for a purpose, as well; namely, bringing glory to God.
Salt has limitations. It can lose its flavour or become impure. Yet the apostle Paul encouraged the Colossians to “let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:6). The word “attractive” in this verse was translated from the same word used for “salt” in Matthew 5. Salt preserves as well as enhances food while maintaining its own distinctness. Christians are to season the world by their presence and yet maintain a distinction from the ways of the world. Light has limitations too. It is useless if no one can see it. Jesus’ picture of hidden light shows the folly of Christians living isolated from the world. We are to be the means by which others might see Jesus.
Think about this: John Wesley was asked about the effectiveness of open-air preaching and the public proclamation of the gospel in eighteenth-century England. Wesley apparently smiled and said something to the effect that “when you light yourself on fire, people will show up to watch you burn.” We will not be effective unless we are willing to be seen by others and consumed in Jesus’ service. Neither salt nor light has to be perfect in order to be useful.
You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.
May people see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.