We met for cheese & crackers, grapes, and a delicious chocolate dessert. Then we got to our Bible study, continuing in Matthew.
Having just described the character traits of those blessed by God and then switching to first person at the end of the Beatitudes, Jesus continues in first person. Now instead of us being the ones who are blessed, He says we are the ones blessing the rest of the world.
“You are the salt of the earth:”
Salt has the capability of preservation and enhancement. It has a cleansing effect, as well.
The earth here is describing the world’s people, which are corrupt because we are all sinners.“Thus, before the flood ( Gen 6:11, 12 ); after the flood ( Gen 8:21 ); in the days of David ( Psa 14:2, 3 ); in the days of Isaiah ( Isa 1:5, 6 ); and in the days of Paul ( Eph 2:1-3; see also Job 14:4 15:15, 16 Jhn 3:6; compared with Rom 8:8 Tts 3:2, 3 ).” (J, F, & B)
“The character and principles of Christians, brought into close contact with [the corrupt world], are designed to arrest the festering corruption of humanity and season its insipidity.” (Brown)
“But if the salt loses its flavor”–If what is supposed to be salty is salty only in name, or if it does not have “those saving elements” (Brown) The health of the world is dependent on genuine, “salty” Christianity.
“How shall it be seasoned?”
“What is to be the issue of that Christianity which is found wanting in those elements which can alone stay the corruption and season the tastelessness of an all–pervading carnality? . . . Since living Christianity is the only ‘salt of the earth,’ if men lose that, what else can supply its place?” (Brown)
Notes from Dr. Gary R. Glanville, “What did Jesus mean when He said . . . ? When Salt becomes Unsalty”
“It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
In ancient times, some salt came from marshes and contained many impurities. Once the salt was leeched from it, the residue was thrown onto the pathways.
Dr. Gary R. Glanville says, “As Christians, we offer encouragement, hope, cheerfulness, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patience, love, going the extra mile, giving a helping hand and so much more. And just like salt adds flavor, it enhances with seasoning whatever it touches, we as believers bring flavor to life. We sprinkle life with the seasoning of Christ’s presence radiating in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.
“But Jesus also gives a warning.
“Jesus warns us as Christians to not lose those characteristics and qualities within us that brings life to this world, that flavors this world, that prevents decay. Because when we do lose our Christian values, our teachings, our morals, our ethics, our character, our integrity, and so on – we are worthless to this world. And at that point, we do not serve the purpose God has intended for us just like salt is useless if it becomes tasteless and unsalty and cannot perform its intended function. William Barclay puts it this way: “…when a thing loses its essential quality and fails to perform its essential duty, it is fit for nothing but to be thrown away.” Jesus is saying, if you can’t be salt that preserves and flavors, you are worthless to Me regarding the kingdom work I’ve called you to do.
“Do you remember the old saying how someone might describe another as the salt of the earth? That was a compliment wasn’t it? It was saying this person was a solid citizen, a backbone kind of person, someone you could count on, respectful, useful, possessing great integrity and worth.
“Well Christ challenges us as His followers to be the salt of the earth, to add our flavoring wherever we go. This is why I think it is so important for us as Christians, to make sure our behavior is above board. We are to behave like pure white salt, unadulterated by this world, holy in character and honest in our dealings with others. We make sure our language or the stories we tell are not questionable. We are to bring a cheerful spirit to our work environments, while at the same time working diligently and honestly. We offer compassion and kindness filling needs to those we meet in mission. In a worried world we offer the calmness and reassurance of Christ. In a depressed world we bring the joy of Jesus. In a frightened world looking for answers we offer the hope of Christ.
“As salt, we are not only preservers of that which is good, but we are also agents of change, because we want to change that which is about us into something better. Therefore, this world needs us. So please hear me when I tell you as a Christian – your life counts. Who you are and what you do is important. Why? Because you are the salt of the earth. Through Christ’s Spirit living in you, you are the preserver and the flavorer, the one the Lord uses to make others thirst after righteousness.” (Glanville)
“You are the light of the world.”
“This being the distinctive title which our Lord appropriates to Himself ( Jhn 8:12 9:5; and see Jhn 1:4, 9 3:19 12:35, 36 ) –a title expressly said to be unsuitable even to the highest of all the prophets ( Jhn 1:8 ) –it must be applied here by our Lord to His disciples only as they shine with His light upon the world, in virtue of His Spirit dwelling in them, and the same mind being in them which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Brown)
We are salt, mixed into the world to bring cleansing and preservation and enhancement, so that the Holy Spirit within us can work in the world.
We are transparent lamps that carry Jesus’ light to the darkness in this world so that the unbelievers around us can see Him through us and know that they need His light.
Some will run to the Light and become part of His kingdom. Some will run from it, trying to “turn it off” as quickly as possible. Sometimes they will lash out at the source of the Light-bearers (us).
The purpose of a lamp is to shine where everyone can see it. “As nobody lights a lamp only to cover it up, but places it so conspicuously as to give light to all who need light, so Christians, being the light of the world, instead of hiding their light, are so to hold it forth before men that they may see what a life the disciples of Christ lead, and seeing this, may glorify their Father for so redeeming, transforming, and ennobling earth’s sinful children, and opening to themselves the way to like redemption and transformation.” (Brown)
We also read 1 John 4 based on some discussions that arose. What a great chapter! 🙂