Salt of the Earth . . . Light of the World

Matthew 5:13-16

You—yes, you—are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Jesus did not say become the salt of the earth; he said you are the salt of the earth. He did not say become the light of the world; he said you are the light of the world.

Salt of the Earth

Salt adds flavor; without it food is bland. Our lives—as salt—should present Christianity as delightful, not distasteful; desirable, not disagreeable.

Before refrigeration, salt was used primarily as a preservative—rubbed into meat and fish to prevent decay and rottenness. We—as salt—should be antitoxins in a world gone rotten; having a purifying and curative influence.

Light of the World

Light dispels darkness. John introduced Jesus to the world as “The light [that] shines in the darkness” (Jn 1:5). Jesus commissioned his disciples to reflect his light: to be the light of the world.

Christians not only carry the light, they are the light. It’s sobering to realize that those living in darkness judge Christianity, not by the gospel, but by Christians.

Paul described Christians as those who “shine like stars in the dark world” (Phil 2:15). Bible commentator John Stott wrote, “I sometimes think how splendid it would be if non-Christians, curious to discover the secret and source of our light, were to enquire:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

The Rest of the Story

Jesus said if salt loses its saltiness it is useless; if light is hidden, it is worthless.

We are the salt of the earth. But whether we give favorable flavor and leave people with a pleasant taste in their mouth about Christianity is a choice we make. Whether we are a preservative to stanch the decay of society is a choice we make.

Salt can lose its saltiness; can become contaminated by mixture with impure ingredients so that it becomes useless. When Christians become tainted by the impurities of the world they lose their saltiness, their influence; when they become indistinguishable from the world, they become useless.

We are the light of the world. But whether we shine the light or hide the light is a choice we make.

“[P]eople don’t hide a light under a bowl,” Jesus said; “They put it on a lampstand so the light shines . . .” (NCV). Light hidden under a bowl (bushel) is worthless. If we hide our light, we simply become part of the darkness.

We would do well to revisit the Bible School days of our youth . . .

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine . . .
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine.

We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. Those are Jesus-stated facts. What we do as salt and light is the rest of the story . . . those are the chapters we’re writing.

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