Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wednesday March 19, 2014 Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. --
Matthew 5:13-16  (NIV)

What does it mean for us to be the salt and light of the world?  Since this passage immediately follows the beatitudes, it seems clear that we are salt and light in our blessedness. That is, we are salt and light when we are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, and being persecuted for Jesus' sake. When we live in our poverty of spirit, we point to the truth that we were created to find our real comfort and peace in God.  I think it is also important to note that this Scripture passage is telling us what we ARE.  It does not tell us what we should do or strive to be.  It says, as followers of Christ, that we already are the salt and light.  God has chosen us, and we can find strength and comfort in this statement of identity.

What does it mean, then, to be "salt"?  There were a number of Old Testament uses for salt.  It was used for seasoning, preservation, and purifying.  It was also used to ratify covenants and in liturgical functions.  To eat salt with someone signified a bond of friendship and loyalty.  I believe that Jesus is telling us that in following the beatitudes, we can help be a purifying agent in the world around us.  Through our friendships and bonds, God wants to use us to transform others' hearts and lives.  But to the glory and honor of God!  Salt shouldn't call attention to itself in a well-seasoned dish, it should merely enhance the flavors and make the overall dish so much more delicious.  And if the salt loses its flavor, it must be discarded, so that it may begin again as a new life in Christ.

To be "light", I believe, is to participate in the true identity and essence of who Christ is. "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).  Jesus is calling us to shine His light into the darkness of this world, to be a ray of hope and peace amidst darkness and destruction.  He is calling us to live a life before men that bears witness to our blessedness in Christ and that, ultimately, glorifies our Father in heaven.

We were made to be salt and light for the glory of God.  We were given the beatitudes for the glory of God. When we live in obedience to what God has commanded us, the world sees our good works and gives glory to God.  This is the ultimate purpose for which He created each and every one of us, let us rejoice and be glad!   

--Jennifer Mosier


Tracy said...

Wow- a lot to ponder in a few short verses!For me a lot of conviction here:
5:14 Am I bold in shining the light of Jesus and claiming it as such?
5:15 I hope and pray that I am using the spiritual gifts God has given me to honor Him and serve His children but I know I sometimes let my priorities get out of alignment such that "everyone who is in the house" is not necessarily seeing the light of Jesus in/through me. In a similar vein, it makes me sad to see people who are gifted hiding their lights under the bowl by not using their gifts because of shyness or lack of self esteem or whatever prevents them.
4:16 It's almost like double dipping: good deeds help others, make us feel wonderful ourselves AND give honor and glory to God (um I guess that's triple dipping isn't it?)
But 5:13 is the most convicting, and well just a bit scary to me.If salt loses it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again. This makes me think of how easy it is to be distracted by worldly concerns that take our focus off Jesus. It is hard to remain "salty" in such a case. And the more enmeshed in the world we become the harder it is to regain that focus, just as the scripture says. Interestingly, verse 13 in some translations adds trampled underfoot by men (NKJV) or people (ESV).That says to me that the same focus that draws our attention away from heavenly things will turn around and destroy us (it is good then for nothing but to be trampled underfoot)Keeping our focus on Jesus and building God's kingdom on the other hand gives us life...both in this world and eternal life. Hmmmm which should I choose?

JenM said...

5:13 was also the most convicting and "scary" one for me as well. I didn't explore it too much in my commentary, but I did try to search for biblical answers to "what do you do when, as a Christian, you lose your 'saltiness?'". This passage clearly tells us that the salt should be discarded and trampled underfoot. Surely we can hope to regain our saltiness by and through the grace of God? But my thought was first we must repent, be cleansed and be made new again. Thoughts?

Linda W said...

I think perhaps losing our "saltiness" in this case means forgetting our identity in Christ (God at the center) and reverting instead to the world's standard of human identity (self at the center)-- a self-constructed identity built on religious performance, moral performance, job performance, parenting performance, political ideology, comparisons with others, and on and on. A self-constructed identity either fills us with pride if we're doing well or despair if we're not living up to our own standards. So in my mind, regaining our saltiness would mean we repent of not only our sins, but also our self-righteousness.

Tracy said...

Yes ladies, I agree. God's grace is always available to us through Christ IF we avail ourselves of it with our repentance of worldly ways (sin, self righteousness as you both mention) But I believe we also need to refocus on Kingdom ways (God center) staying rooted in His word and praying constantly for help and guidance, because worldly ways are always present distracting us and always draining our "saltiness".