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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
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Jesus has just given a good list of what kind of people his followers are supposed to be like. Or at least the standard they are to work toward. He was describing people and now he is beginning to share the impact those kind of people can have. People who are poor in spirit, humble, meek, mourn what God mourns, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, make peace are sure to be a little different than the crowd. If you are living into those beatitudes, you will definitely stand out. That is being salty and bright. It is being set apart. The cool thing about being set apart is that it is a lifelong process. Salvation takes but a moment, but sanctification lasts a lifetime. It is a daily practice of being washed by the Word of God and letting Holy Spirit work in us to progressively mature in our faith.
So, about being salt and light. These are two things that folks are familiar with. It is easy to see how they work. Salt adds flavor and light…adds light. You know I had to look up some Greek words.
salt – halas – figuratively God preserving and seasoning a believer as they grow, i.e. in loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, strength and in all their relationships;
that kind of saline matter used to fertilize arable land to “to impart to mankind the influences required for a life of devotion to God” (Matthew 5:13 Bible Hub)
Even in the definition of salt in the Greek is describing being sanctified. Do you see the work God will do in you? We really have got a good deal here. I mean it’s like having the lab partner that does all the work and you just get to add your name. Is that not crazy? We get credit for God being awesome. All we have to do is LET HIM DO IT and direct the praise back to him.
But Jesus talks about salt losing its saltiness. Is that even possible? I had to do some research on this. Turns out that salt is very stable. It does not change, for the most part. So what is Jesus talking about? Salt not being salty and being able to be made salty again? I learned a fun fact while studying this. In the late 1st century there was a rabbi that was asked about this teaching of Jesus and how could salt be made salty again. His reply was to “salt it with the afterbirth of a mule.”
Mules are sterile and thus lack afterbirth; His point was that the question was stupid. If salt could lose its saltiness, what would it be useful for? (Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible)
See why you read notes and commentaries? Not only does it give good insight about the Word, but I learned that mules are sterile. However, I also had to rethink and dig deep into what Jesus meant. Salt really can’t not be salt. It does what it does. But what if it gets diluted? I started thinking about what happens if you add too much to something you are cooking. The only way to salvage it is to add more of everything else. Jim and I love spice mix. They almost always have salt as an ingredient, but depending on what else in in the mix you might not even taste it. It’s diluted. It’s not as salty. (I read a great article on this: “How Does Salt Lose its Saltiness” by Deneen White)
For salt to lose its taste is to lose its uniqueness. Christians are to be salt in a decaying world. But if you become too mixed up with the world and allow its values to affect you, your will lose your uniqueness as a Christian and your ability to make a kingdom difference. (Dr. Tony Evans Bible Commentary )
We have to be set apart. We have to be salty. We have to be bright. We can’t dilute ourselves with the standards of the world. We can’t hide our light.
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