“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. – Matthew 5:13-14 (AMP)
Whenever I have heard someone quote these verses, it has always been in reference to getting involved in politics. After all, what better way to be salt and light than to inject some flavor and light to the political scene? But is that really what Jesus meant when He spoke those words?
The salt and light verses were spoken right after the Beatitudes and right after these verses is a short discourse about the Law. So we have instructions on how to be blessed or happy, then a few verses on getting involved in politics, and after that, a few verses about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Law. Right? Or is it right?
Is there another way to apply Matthew 5:13-16? On June 27, 2014, Brannon Howse had a very interesting radio program on. He was talking about this very subject. As I listened to it and thought about it over the last couple of days, I decided to expand on some of his thoughts and take them just a little bit further–application-wise.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.” – Matthew 5:13
How does salt lose it’s flavor? In the first century AD, when Jesus spoke these words, salt would lose it’s flavor by being mixed, or diluted, with other minerals. If too much of the other minerals was mixed in, the salt would lose it’s usefulness and be thrown onto the path to be trampled. There is no way to restore the salt to it’s original purpose.
Christians can also lose their usefulness by diluting the gospel or their witness. How Christians live can affect their witness. If they live exactly like the world, how is the world going to see Christianity?
“Oh, so and so is a Christian and they listen to the same music, wear the same clothes, and do the same things we do, so you must just have to go to church once a month or so and you’ll be fine and go to heaven anyway.” That isn’t the gospel that Jesus preached and it certainly isn’t how Paul said you are to live in Romans 12:1-2:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
“And do not be conformed to this world…” Christians are not supposed to live like the world. We are to live in the world and interact with the world, but we are not to give ourselves over to the world’s thinking or lifestyles. If we do, how will they see that Christians are different? We may as well throw ourselves on the road and let ourselves be trampled!
What about you? Are you living as a Christian who blends in with the rest of the world? Or are you set apart and different from the world? How are you different?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Not only should we be different from the world, but we should stand out in the world! To illustrate verse 13 on his radio program, Brannon shared a story about how him and his wife were driving in South Dakota to Rapid City at night. All around them for miles and miles and miles was dark, flat land. It was pitch black with no lights whatsoever. Then, a few miles before getting to Rapid City, they saw a bright light on the horizon. The light was Rapid City, sitting like a sentinel atop the hill. All around was darkness, but at the center of that darkness was a brilliant light leading the way.
We live in a world full of darkness. Everywhere you hear reports of one crime or another being committed. Murder, torture, rape, arrests of innocent people in foreign countries, children taken from their parents because those parents dared to do educate them from home, persecution of Christians like Meriam Ibrahim and Pastor Saeed.
This world is full of darkness and desperately needs to hear about the light of the world. But if Christians are living exactly like the world and looking exactly like them, how is the world supposed to know what the light is or what living in the light looks like? Christians should stand out in a crowd by the joy on their face, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, their cheerful servant attitude.
What about you? Are you living in the light? If not, why? If so, are you ready to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have” (1 Peter 3:15)?
The days are short. Jesus is coming back again and we need to be REAL salt and light to this flavorless and dark world. What are you going to do about it? Who do you know who needs to know about Jesus and His free gift of salvation? What are you willing to sacrifice to tell them about it?
Are you ready to “Go Light Your World“?