Salt and Light

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5:13–14, ESV).

Sinclair Ferguson in his book, The Sermon on the Mount, writes, “There is opposition to Christ’s people, and even persecution of them. The true church is too different for the world to tolerate it. The world sees the kingdom of God as a threat to its own ways, and so seeks to destroy it.”

If the world responds to the kingdom of God in this way, how should those who belong to the kingdom live in this world? Jesus points out, in two ways, what it means to be a Christian in this society. He says Christians are like salt, and they are like light.

Being the Salt of the Earth

“You are the salt of the earth.” How are we salt? Mark 9:49–50 says, “For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

Luke speaks of it this way, “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile, it is thrown away”(Luke 14:34, ESV).

The primary use of salt was not as flavoring, but as a preservative; even in our modern day we are familiar with its use to preserve meat. When Jesus calls Christians the salt of the earth, what does He mean?

Like salt, Christians may feel small and insignificant and powerless in a society that is power mad. Yet they have the ability to influence every part of society, to penetrate the whole of society. When we think of salt, it is fairly cheap and of minimal value, but it has properties that far exceed its value. Salt has been and is still being used as a preservative, especially with meat to keep it from spoiling. It has no special instructions and has no expiration date. Ferguson writes, “So it is with the members of God’s kingdom, like salt there will be times when their true usefulness will become very clear… Christians whose lives exhibit the qualities of the blessed will have a preserving impact on society.” Think about it; a society left to itself will spoil, fall apart, and deteriorate. Without the influence of the gospel, our society will suffer moral decay, and finally become unfit for life of good and moral men and women.

As Christians, we need to take our stand for God in society, wherever we are—at school, at work, with our own neighbors, or those with whom we play sports. Ungodly influence is everywhere.

This, in and of itself, will not regenerate society. It will help to make it a little more difficult for sinful attitudes, habits, or words to become the normal attitudes among friends and acquaintances, however. If we are more watchful about our words and actions, then respect for others will be more common. When we are salt of the earth we have a way of preserving society.

“We are the salt of the earth. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?”(Luke 14:34, ESV).  Salt has another property, one of which we are all very aware. It seasons and brings out flavor. Ferguson says, “in The Old Oxford Dictionary, one meaning of the word ‘season’ is it ‘gives zest to.’ Christians should have zest, but not trying to season with a gang buster’s attitude. The presence of God’s people should increase the flavor of life. Approach others with a Christ-like attitude, who has given us abundant life. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

Everything about us should express the attractiveness of Christ. Jesus Himself had this zest. By His very presence, He raised the spirits of people. The Apostle Paul tells us that our speech needs to be seasoned. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29, ESV).  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6, ESV). When salt loses its saltiness it is worthless, it becomes part of the pathway instead of influencing men’s taste—it is to be trodden under their feet. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matt. 5:13). The same can be said of us who profess to be Christians. If we cease to be different than the world (saltless), then we cease to be Christians.

Being the Light of the World

In the second description of His people, Jesus says they are the light of the world.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”(Matt. 4:16 NKJV). Those who belong to Him, are brought out of the kingdom of darkness, into His kingdom of light.” “… Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin” (Col. 1:12–13). As a result, we have become children of light, so we are to live as children of light and have nothing to do with deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:8–14).

Two more examples of what Jesus is talking about are found in Matt. 5:14–15. Verse 14 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Verse 15 says, “Nor do people light a lamp and hide it under a basket, but on a stand that it gives light to all in the house.” Christians who have become lights in the Lord should shine for Him. Their deeds will show forth God’s holiness. By them, others may be drawn also to glorify God. Now verse 16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Peter echoes this thought when he says we are a people chosen to declare the praise of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Peter encourages us to live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you or us of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Pet. 2:12, Ferguson).

We are to be the light of the world, we are not to hide or hinder the light of God in any way, but let it shine to all. Jesus is the light of the world, that the darkness can never overcome us. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it” (John 1:5).

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them” (Eph. 5:8–11).

The Light of the World is Jesus

The whole world was lost
In the darkness of sin,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Like sunshine at noonday,
His glory shone in.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

No darkness have we
Who in Jesus abide;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
We walk in the light
When we follow our Guide!
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Ye dwellers in darkness
With sin blinded eyes,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Go, wash, at His bidding,
And light will arise.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

No need of the sunlight
In Heaven we’re told;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
The Lamb is the Light
In the city of gold,
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Elder Ewald Ochsner
Greeley, CO
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes