Habakkuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Matthew 5:13-16: “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. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
There are 14,000 catalogued uses of salt. It is used as a preservative for meats, in the manufacturing of soap, in the production of glass, to soften water, as ice melt, to heal wounds, in the smelting and refining of metals, in farming to preserve wet hay, and as a salt-lick for cattle. In cooking it is used as a nutrient, for flavoring, to enhance color, and as texture.
Here are four ways salt was significant in Jewish culture. Salt was:
1. Enduring: Salt was used in burnt offerings as a symbol of God’s lasting covenant with His people. Salt is the opposite of leaven – the type of sin. In Ezra 7:22, Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest and set no limit to the quantity. Similarly, we can be sure that when the King of Kings distributes grace among His royal priesthood the supply is not cut short.
2. Pure: Germs can’t live in salt so it is rubbed into wounds as a disinfectant.
3. Precious/valuable: As stated before, salt was indispensable in sacrifices and for flavoring food. Large quantities were used in the temple service and it was very symbolic in the ceremony of the covenant.
4. A Preservative: The only way that the Jewish people could preserve fresh meat was to cover it with salt to keep it from spoiling. Salt was also used in the tanning of hides.
Matthew 5:13 says, “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.”
The “you are” refers only to genuine, born-again people. Believers are like salt and can help meet the needs of the world. Jesus’ teaching parallels the previously-mentioned Jewish significance of salt:
1. Enduring: Jesus told His disciples (and all Christians) to stop corruption and prevent moral decay in the world. Jesus admonished His disciples and all believers to remain steadfast and true – to endure in the way of life He had given them and has given us. He promises a great reward for those who endure: “To the one who is victorious and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.” – Revelation 2:26
2. Pure: Jesus wanted His disciples to be a spiritual disinfectant for the world. Sin is like a culture of spiritual germs. We are to fight against sin to prevent it from multiplying.
3. Precious/Valuable: Jesus revealed that God’s children are precious. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.” – Psalm 116:15. We are just as precious. There is a small, precious group of people called to do God’s work and fulfill the commission given by Jesus in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
4. A Preservative: Just like the disciples, we are commissioned to preach the gospel of truth to the entire world.
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
A more literal meaning of “loses its saltiness” would be “is defiled.” During Jesus’ time it was possible that salt could become mixed with other impure substances or minerals, causing a weakness in flavor or a bland taste. If this happened, the salt became worthless as a preservative. “Losing saltiness” could symbolize abandoning or deviating from the gospel. It could also mean that in a world filled with sin and deceit, it is possible for a believer to become contaminated and an ineffective disciple.
“How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
If salt loses its saltiness, it is worthless. Likewise, if Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God. If we are too much like the world, we are worthless. Christians should not blend in with everyone else. Instead, we should affect others positively, just as seasoning brings out the flavor in food. If a Christian loses his effectiveness, his testimony will be trampled under the feet of man.
We have been called to do a very important job. We are to help preserve the entire world, saving it from utter destruction. It is an awesome responsibility. We must be willing to sacrifice, change, and repent of our old ways. We must be willing to truly become “the salt of the earth.”
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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.” – Matthew 5:14
Moving on to the concept of light in the Matthew passage, how do we get light?
3. sun by day, moon by night
5. fueled containers
How did the Jewish people get light?
1. sun by day, moon by night
3. lamps or candles
“You are the light of the world” describes the essential mission of the Christian to the world. He is the condition (salt) to meet the needs of the world and he has a mission (light) to the world. His light must clearly shine forth into the darkness of human depravity.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” – John 8:12
Just as Jesus is the light of the world, we as Christians are to reflect that light. Like light from a city illuminates the dark countryside or a lamp inside a house provides light for all inside, Christians must let their works shine before the rest of the world so that others may praise God, bringing glory to God.
If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights, showing others what Christ is like. How are we to be light? We must do good works. First, we must do good works that others may see and approve of, giving them cause to think well of Christianity. Second, the good works must be done for others’ edification so they are built up spiritually.
“Put it under a bowl.” How do we hide our light?
1. By being quiet when we should speak
2. By going along with the crowd
3. By denying the light
4. By letting sin dim our light
5. By not explaining our light to others
6. By ignoring the needs of others
Darkness is the absence of light and darkness alone cannot dispel the light. But the smallest light can dispel the greatest darkness.
Verse 16 is our vision statement, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Be a beacon of truth. Don’t shut your light off from the rest of the world. Let your light shine through a clean life before the Lord and before the world in which we live.
In order to be salt and light to this world, we must remain active preservative agents in calling the world to heed God’s standards. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world, but stand out.
How would having the knowledge of the glory of the Lord affect these ideas? How should we apply what Jesus said?
1. You are the salt of the world.
a. Be enduring. Remain steadfast and true. Speak the truth.
b. Be purifying. Prevent sin from multiplying.
c. Be valuable. Fulfill the commission.
d. Be preserving. Be all over the world. Be in it, but not of it.
2. Let your light shine. Show what Jesus Christ is like to others.
JOURNEY: Y – YOU
NEXT LEVEL STEP(S): LIVE. How can you show others what Christ is like this week?