Summary: Jesus teaches us as His disciples to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world for Him. This profound teaching calls us to represent Jesus in a dark world.
In my last post, I concluded the Beatitudes by talking about being peacemakers and suffering persecution for Jesus’ name. In this post, I teach him what it means to be salt and light in the world.
Jesus was the most practical and down to earth Teacher who ever lived. He used the things we understand the most to explain spiritual truths. Salt and light are two of these common items we understand on a basic level.
As we continue the Sermon on the Mount and talk about you, a disciple of Jesus, developing Christian character starts with Jesus, the great Teacher. We walk behind Him, the dust of His sandals sticking to our face. As we walk with Jesus every day, the dust of His influence on us, His teachings and commandments, stick to our face.
Jesus’s teachings form us like nothing else. To be conformed to Christ, you must become salt and light in the world. You are His representative and ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). As you represent Jesus in your world, be salt and light for Jesus. Let’s get started.
You Already Are
Jesus doesn’t command us to be salt and light. He says we already are what we seek to be. He doesn’t say, “Try to be salt and light.” He says, “You are the salt and light of the world.” Because we have relationship with Jesus and He has changed us by His love and sacrifice for us, we must simply step into the person He is making us to be.
You are already the salt of the earth. You are already the light of the world. Because you know Jesus, you automatically are His representative and ambassador on this earth. Stop struggling to become what you already are.
I will unpack what it means to be Jesus’s salt and light in the world below, but you must get this fact. It will change the way you live for Jesus. You don’t have to struggle to be something He said you are. So, be the salt and light Jesus says you are. He will help you by the Holy Spirit to live up to His great teachings and commandments.
Being Salt (Matthew 5:13)
What are the qualities of salt? We don’t often think about the revolutionary results of salt. Jesus talks about its saltiness that brings taste to what we eat. Salt has many properties we need to consider to be the salt of the earth.
Salt flavors everything we eat. It brings out the flavors of the food. In the same way, we must bring flavor to the discussions we have with others. Jesus gives us a different perspective than anyone not living for Him has.
You have a valuable place in the discussions and conversations of this world. You bring godly wisdom to the conversations and actions others take. They look to you for godly counsel they can’t get anywhere else.
Like Daniel, God can give you wisdom and revelation this world seeks. Daniel interpreted the king’s dreams because God gave revelation about their meaning. The counsel you offer, the words you speak, and the thoughts you express can change the minds and actions of the people around you.
They don’t consider your words or thoughts for themselves. You bring a redemptive quality to the table. When you offer your different perspective, it can be revelatory. Share your thoughts and words with those around you and help them see the difference Jesus makes.
We use salt to preserve meat and foods. Just as salt preserves the foods we put it with, you preserve godliness and the creation God designed from the beginning. The Bible talks about the restrainer that keeps the world from going into evil chaos (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). As long as Christians and the Church of God are in this world, we keep the world from complete wickedness. Our presence adds salt that preserves righteousness and keeps people from doing the evil in their hearts to its full extent.
A time will come when Jesus calls us home and our example, wisdom, and words will no longer keep them from doing what they wish to do. Nobody knows exactly what the Restrainer is in 2 Thessalonians. Some of the best interpretations range from the Holy Spirit to the Church to individual Christians. I lean toward the Holy Spirit. But He will leave with us when Christ comes for us in the rapture.
Don’t forget what Jesus talked about most in this verse. He said salt must not lose its taste or saltiness. What good is salt if it doesn’t flavor our food or preserve it? That salt is no longer worth anything except to be trampled on. We must not lose our flavor, our gladly conduct and conversation, our godly wisdom. We are no good to Jesus if we don’t act like salt in our world.
He makes us salt of the earth, those who flavor conversations with godly wisdom. You are the salt of the earth that preserves righteousness in this world until Jesus takes you home. So, be the salt of the earth until the world no longer listens to you.
Being Light (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus also told us to be light in this world. Think about the properties of light. When Jesus came into the world, His light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). Light chases away the darkness and exposes what it hides.
Paul talks about being children of light and exposing the worthless deeds done in the darkness (Ephesians 5:7-13). The light of the gospel and the light in us exposes the sinfulness of this world. When we live for Christ and show others His righteousness, they have one of three reactions. They can try to hide their sin from us, lash out at us when we expose it, or respond with repentance to the Lord.
We don’t go searching for wickedness and sin to expose it. But one would come across it, we don’t help them hide it or ignore it. We cannot ignore the wickedness of this world. When you see tragedy, sin, and wickedness in our culture, you are responsible to expose it, to bring it to light.
Light doesn’t only expose what the darkness hides, but it reveals what is hidden. Would you turn the light on in the darkness, everything the darkness hides becomes visible. Light reveals what has been unseen. We reveal to the world through the light in us the gospel and the God and His truth the wicked suppress.
This is why Jesus says the light shines like a city on a hill. You should never hide the light in you. Don’t put it under a bushel. The purpose of God’s light in you is to expose wickedness and to reveal Jesus to them. You shine like the light Jesus says you are (Philippians 2:14-18). You are a jar of clay carrying God’s light to a broken, sinful, and fallen world (2 Corinthians 4:3-7).
But the light of the gospel and the truth from Jesus light up this world, expose the darkness and the things it hides, and reveal Jesus to those who need Him the most. Don’t be ashamed of the light in you. Don’t hide the light of the gospel within you.
So, let your light shine through the good works you do that glorifies the Father in heaven. You show Jesus everywhere you go. When people see Jesus in you, the light that exposes their darkness and gives them the choice of trying to hide it or being drawn to the light, they must decide what to do.
In your going, be salt, preserving righteousness in your conversations and conduct, being an example of Jesus, and adding Christ-like flavor to your world. Shine the light of the gospel and Jesus everywhere you go. Don’t be afraid to expose darkness and wickedness and reveal Jesus in the darkest of situations.
We have seen the power of being salt and light in this world. Next, we talk about Jesus and how He fulfills the law, and how to be great in God’s kingdom as disciples of Jesus.