Salt and Light

by Duane Maust
Matthew 5: 13-16
August 17, 2008

This is a wonderful little passage that is part of the Sermon on the Mount. It is just four verses. Jesus was up on the mountainside teaching a crowd in these three chapters in Matthew.

What does this have to do with a series that we are doing on evangelism? Should I not be telling you how to tell someone about Jesus? Jesus was pleading with his people then and now to live in a way that would draw people toward the Father. Think about it, how we conduct our daily lives has implications that reach all the way into eternity. Our lives are talking. “You are the salt of the earth.”

Let’s notice a couple of words that Jesus used in these verses. He says, “YOU.” I believe that is directed to us today. Our light and salt is for the “world and earth.” We are to take it everywhere. Jesus didn’t say you are the light of the church. He didn’t say Jerusalem or Meridian.

Let’s think about salt a minute. What does it do? It adds flavor. Without salt food often tastes flat. Back in the time Jesus was talking to them, salt was often used to preserve their meat. Salt is important for us today. We all have a salt shaker handy when we eat, just in case the flavor is not quite right.

Barclay commentary says, “Christianity is to life what salt is to food. Christianity lends flavor to life.”

If salt gets wet or just gets moisture in it, it is no good.

Did you ever go to put salt on and the lid comes over the salt shaker? That is not good. Too much salt makes food no good to eat.

He wants our lives to attract people to him by flavor we add to the world we live in.

Jesus expects us to keep things in balance so we don’t blind someone or make something too salty. The right amount will attract.

I was at Books-a-million and there were four people having a Bible study in the front corner of the store and you could hear the teacher preaching in the back corner of the store. He was yelling in a loud voice that everyone in the store could hear. That was too salty for me.

He wants our lives to attract people to him by flavor we add to the world we live in.

Back in Jesus’ day they used lamps in their homes for lighting. They often would have just one small window. The homes were likely dark. They didn’t have light bulbs like we do today. Their light was a lamp that was a bowl filled with oil that had a wick in it. When they needed to light the lamp, it was a big deal. They didn’t have matches to light the lamp, so they kept it lit most of the time when they would leave. When they were gone, they would put it under an earthen basket for safety reasons. Then when they would return home, they would take it out and set it on a stand.

They would never light a lamp just to put it under the basket.

Often lights guide people from danger. Lighthouses do that for ships. They guide ships from hitting rocks and from running aground.

I thought about our new Mississippi license plates. We have a lighthouse on the plate. It is the Biloxi lighthouse. It survived Katrina. It is to be a sign of hope for the state.

Lights are important at an airport. Lights guide airplanes in. They help the pilots see that they are lining up right to the runway. Before this high security you could look down the alley and see the lights out the front window of the airplane.

What happens at night if you meet a car that does not dim its light? You can’t see. Too much light can blind you. If you are welding metal, the arc from welding is too much light, you need a helmet to protect you from that excessive light. Jesus wants us to be a light for the world. He wants our lives to guide people to Him. He wants the people that live around us to see Jesus through our lives.

The light that can be seen, the light that can warn, the light that guides, these are the lights that the Christian must be.

He wants our lives to attract people to him by flavor we add to the world we live in.

Much like a light bulb, we must be connected to the source to have the right power to give light. We need to be connected to God in prayer and have His Holy Spirit with us.

I read of a business owner who, as a seeker, had employed a number of Christians in his company. He watched them like a hawk.

“You know, I was naturally drawn to God by observing Christian workers who were conscientious and kind and thorough and aggressive on the job,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what really impressed me. One day a guy who I knew to be a fresh convert asked if he could see me after work. I agreed to meet with him, but later in the day I started to worry that the young religious person might be coming to try to convert me, too.

“I was surprised when he came in my office with his head hanging low and said to me, ‘Sir, I’ll only take a few minutes, but I’m here to ask your forgiveness. Over the years I’ve worked for you I’ve done what a lot of other employee do, like borrowing a few company products here and there. And I’ve taken some extra supplies; I’ve abused telephone privileges; and I’ve cheated the time clock now and then. But I became a Christian a few months ago and it’s real. In gratitude for what Christ has done for me and in obedience to Him, I want to make amends to you and the company for the wrongs I’ve done, so could we figure out a way to do that? If you fire me for what I’ve done, I will understand. I deserve it. Or, if you want to give me some extra work to do on my own time, that would be okay. I just want to make things right with God and between us.'”

Well, they worked things out. And the business owner said that this conversation made a deeper spiritual impact on him than anything else had. It was an impressive demonstration of being connected to God.

Bruce Hamsher says, “Some of us preach from the pulpit with words while others preach in the workplace with actions.”

Read verse 16 – bring praise to God

Barclay–The Christian never thinks of what he has done, but of what God has enabled him to do. He never seeks to draw the eyes of men to himself, but always to direct the to God. So long as men are thinking of the praise, the thanks, the prestige which they will get for what they have done, they have not really even begun on the Christian way.

This new convert was not trying to bring attention to himself, but to bring glory to God.

When you see a MS tag this week, think about how your light is shining. Is it attracting?

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