Gifted preachers have explained this mighty Christian metaphor in delicious ways that excite our taste buds and bring back the savory aromas of blue oceans and transparent seas.From the pages of skilled writers we have walked sandy beaches and felt the sting of salt water in the wound of a tiny cut on our toe or the discomfort when the briny liquid splashed into our eyes.We have been taught well the influence of salt on the body and soul of a person.
But have you considered this?It isn’t like we woke up today and decided, “On this day I have chosen to be like the salt of the earth.”The emphasis is greater than that… you are the salt of the earth all the time and there is no other.You are it!And if YOU lose your influence, there is no more salt.It is gone forever, lost to the world.God has no “Plan B” for getting the job done if we fail.
This verse is not about making the world seem better, but it is about penetrating society and making a permanent change in the life of another person.It means that YOU will influence everyone you contact today in one way or another because YOU are the salt of the earth.Your influence can be for good or for evil.What will it be?
I read that President Woodrow Wilson had a favorite story he would often tell.He said:
"I was in a very common place. I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, to have his hair cut, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered… showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. Before I got through with what was being done for me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. D. L. Moody was in that chair.
I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones; they didn't know his name, but they knew that something had elevated their thoughts. I felt that I left that place as I should have left the place of worship. My admiration and esteem for Mr. Moody became very deep indeed."
Influence.That’s what it’s about.What impact do you have on the world when you walk by?What taste is left in the mouth of society, and what lingering aroma stays in the air with those you contact every day?We are the salt of the earth.For God’s sake, no, for the sake of the world… let’s act like it!
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I fear some of us may perceive that Christian influence is spread like pixie dust from the wand of Tinker Bell, scattering a little here and a little there, lasting for awhile but no permanent change; teach us that salting the earth is a lifetime commitment with eternal consequences and rewards.Amen and amen.
Jesus spoke in a way that the Jews would understand.Using “light” in a religious context had deep meaning because Israel believed Jerusalem was a “light to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 49:6)Long before a traveler reached the Holy City, he would see the massive temple situated majestically on top of Mount Zion, a beacon of Judaism to everyone of every race and religion.Jesus often used something familiar to teach the disciples a new truth.
Later, in Romans chapter 2, the Apostle Paul argued that Israel was no longer the light for the blind as they once were, because they could not follow their own law.They were once the light, but not anymore; their light had been snuffed out because they broke the very laws which they taught.
During the New Testament days, it was a challenging task to keep a candle lit in the household.Every precaution was taken to assure that at least one light was kept burning all the time.But families still faced the possibility that the light could be extinguished accidentally, and when that happened they would usually borrow a light from a neighbor.In like manner, the “LIGHT” of Jerusalem was a borrowed light; it belonged to Jehovah.And when Jesus taught the disciples that “You are the light of the world,” it was a borrowed light, for Jesus also said, “While I am in the world I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).If the world depended solely upon my meager light as a moral compass, people would never experience the Shekinah Glory of God!
The Pharisees never got it and a lot of Christians miss the point, too.It is NOT my light…I am only a custodian of THE TRUE LIGHT, just as you are, and only through HIM are we able to be the light of the world.If my light is shining correctly, people will not praise me, they will praise my Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).Should my light grow dim, and sometimes it may, I will borrow more of His light from YOU to get me going in the right direction once again, because you are the light of the world.For God “…made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (II Cor. 4:6)
The greatest mistake we can make is to believe that His Light makes us something we are not.During a conference where D. L. Moody was present, there was also a group of devoted, well-intentioned young people who decided to conduct an all night prayer vigil.Moody saw them early the next morning and asked what they had been doing.After explaining their prayer meeting they said:“Mr. Moody, see how our faces shine!”To which he responded, “Moses was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”Spending quality time with God does not give us bragging rights to the Light of the World.When it is done right it won’t be necessary to tell someone we are different… they will know it.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I was a child I sang, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”Now that I am an adult, I see more clearly…it never was my light at all.Thank you for letting me become a receptacle for Your glorious presence in this world!Amen and amen.
“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”Matthew 5:37
The Gospel of Matthew was written to a Jewish audience.More than any other book in the New Testament, it is rich in Hebrew religious history.As you read the Sermon on the Mount, refer back to the many Old Testament references with each of the verses to gain a better grasp of the meaning.For example, this text should be read alongside Exodus 20:7 (KJV), “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” This commandment has nothing to say about using bad language, as inappropriate as that is, also.Instead it speaks of credibility!If you make a promise unto the Lord, KEEP IT!If you go against your promise to God, He will require it of you!(Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-22)
Matthew’s gospel clashes head-on with Jewish theology in general and the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees in particular.Old Testament law was precise, tough, and mandatory; it laid down specifically what Jehovah expected of Israel.Through the years the Temple leaders discovered that no one could keep the law without a bit of grace sprinkled in.But instead of accepting that truth, they made the law more difficult by adding so much to it that no one could understand it anymore.Now, instead of one commandment which warned about keeping promises made in the Name of the Lord, there were thousands of laws.The Pharisees had devised a system just so they could NOT be held accountable.Instead of saying, “I swear to God that I will do so-and-so,” they would say something like this:“I swear by my life,” or “I swear by my head,” neither statement bound them to keep their word.They would swear by everything under the sun, but nothing held them to their word unless they would swear by the Lord, which they would not do.
So Jesus said to them, “Stop all that frivolous swearing!By your head, by your life… no, no, no!Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no!’ ”A Christian doesn’t need to swear by an oath to prove that he is telling the truth.By your title, “Christian,” you should already be known as a person of honor.Your name alone sets you above reproach because you have a covenant with God which implores you to live at a higher standard than the world.
But the fact is, we do not live in an ideal place and there are times when we must be held to a legal oath.This is an evil world where a Christian must live within man-made boundaries which are lower than God’s standard.So be it.When you must take an oath, do not perjure yourself… know that you are saying it as unto the Lord!
Beloved, let's start a new movement in the world, a truth movement.Wouldn't it be great?Let's keep the vows we've made that demanded an oath before God; let's keep them for our lifetimes.In our daily conversation, let's speak the truth, the real truth, and live it.Let's be an oasis in the midst of the evil of this world of lying.
GospeLines Prayer:Oh God of all truth, teach us to be children of truth, speaking the truth in love.Guard our tongues that we may rightly represent the God of Truth, because we speak the truth.Amen and amen.