WE ARE TO BE THE ‘SALT AND LIGHT OF THE EARTH’
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
One of the places I love to visit in Israel is the Dead Sea. There part of the sea that I love to visit is one where the rocks have salt crystals stuck on them (as shown above) and the water is crystal clear and clean.
Interestingly, the Old Testament never called it the “Dead Sea.” It is always called the “Salt Sea,” or “Sea of Arabah” etc. This sea is the lowest point on the earth's surface at nearly 430 meters below sea level, and is 306 meters deep. If you are on a Bible Land Tour to Israel, go for a dip in the Dead Sea, and you will come out of the sea, all covered in salt.
The context of being a “salt” and “light” Christian
The Beatitudes of Jesus (Matt 5:3-12) begins with “Blessed are the….” The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still outside the kingdom of God. The verses following Jesus’ teaching on the Beatitudes reads:
“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. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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 5:13-16).
When the world sees such traits in the Christian, they can “taste” and “see” the light of Jesus in and through your Christian testimony. The world needs to see genuine Christians. There are far too many people who call themselves “Christians” but do not do the will of God (a reference to the need to obey God’s word). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21). Are you such a believer?
How to be a “salt” and “light” for Jesus?
There are two traits I want to highlight:
1. Be at peace with one another.
“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50). One of the Beatitudes in Matt 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” We will have to put in effort to live peace with one another, or be a peacemaker. Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18). If it can be done. This expression implies that it could not always be done. Still it should be an object of the believer’s desire; and we should endeavour to obtain it. How can the Christian be at war with one another? The world cannot taste the saltiness and see the light of our Christian life in Jesus. Is that what we want? So I encourage you to do one thing when we meet one another each Sunday in church: Let us always greet one another (Rom 16:16). In the Contemporary English Version, it reads, “Be sure to give each other a warm greeting.”
2. “Salty” speech.
A believer’s words are to be seasoned with salt. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).
“The speech of the new man must also be seasoned… with salt. It is not only to be gracious, but also to have an effect. Salt can sting when rubbed into a wound (cf. Prov 27:6). It also prevents corruption. Believers’ speech should act as a purifying influence, rescuing conversation from the filth that so often engulfs it. Salt also adds flavour, and the speech of the new man should add charm and wit to conversation.” (John MacArthur)
A believer, therefore, should pray: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps 141:3). Albert Barnes commented,
“That my lips or mouth may not open except when it is proper and right; when something good and true is to be said. Nothing can be more proper than “this” prayer; nothing more desirable than that God should keep us from saying what we ought not to say.”
The second part of Col 4:6 says, “…. so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” We need wisdom to do so, and do so with gentleness and kindness, not raising your temper. The Beatitudes teaches us to reflect the traits of a true child of God in our speech. “Blessed are the ….” (Matt 5:3-12)
Now, how do we test our saltiness? One way to know if you are “salty” is by tasting. Our “saltiness” is spiritual but can be seen in our lives through our actions and how we live our lives according to the Bible’s teachings.
We are told to let our light shine, and if it does,
we won't need to tell anybody it does.
Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining-
they just shine.
- Dwight L. Moody