Reading the Word
Matthew 5:13–16 (ESV)
13 “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.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 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.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Jesus uses two images in these verses to give us a picture of the role of his people in the world. He begins by saying, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt was used for a variety of things in the ancient world. a few primary uses were as a preservative, as a way to purify food, and as a seasoning. It would be hard to say which of these benefits of salt that Jesus is referring to, but maybe that is the point. Salt has a beneficial influence on the world. Yet, if salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer of any benefit. It is time to throw it away.
The second image that Jesus gives us is concerning light. He says, “You are the light of the world.” Of course, light illuminates dark places and allows all to see. A city on a hill would be east to see at night because of its lights. And who lights a lamp to cover it? That would be counter productive. A lamp is placed up high so it can give off as much light as possible.
Followers of Jesus are to be like salt in the world. We should have a beneficial influence for good. And we should be like light. We should illuminate this dark world with the truth of God’s word so that the world may see and turn to Jesus. Let us then live in such a way that people will see our lives and be pointed to our God, so that they will give glory to him.
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