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How are believers “salt and light”?

Salt and lightJesus said “salt and light” are pictures or types of believers in Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Why would Jesus compare believers with salt?

Salt was once one of the most valuable commodities on earth. It was traded ounce-for-ounce with gold because of its important uses:

  • Preserving foods
  • Serving as an antiseptic
  • Providing flavor
  • Acting as currency. Soldiers were paid in salt (solarium argentum). This is where we derive our word salary and the phrase “worth his salt”.

The comparison with believers:

  1. Salt flavors food, and believers should “flavor” or influence those around them toward Christ. All the while not being influenced by the world themselves.
  2. Salt acts an antiseptic, and believers should help “sterilize” the world they live in.
  3. Salt is a preservative, and believers “preserve” others for eternity through the spread of the Gospel.
  4. When salt is removed food spoils, and when the church is removed the earth will be “spoiled.” Paul describes it in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

Why would Jesus compare believers with light?

The reason Jesus compares believers with lamps is more obvious. God has “made His light shine in our hearts” (2 Cor 4:6). This is a light that “should shine before men, so they may see and praise our Father in heaven” (Mat 5:16).

Salt that isn’t salty and lamps that don’t put off light “are no longer good for anything” (Mat 5:13). Ouch! One of the main reasons God chose Israel in the Old Testament was to reveal Him to the world. The Church has the same calling today. Compare these verses:

  • Exodus 19:6a You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

As believers we should operate with the understanding God has called us to reach out to a fallen, sinful world. There’s an interesting balance:

  • It’s not so much striving to be salt and light as trusting God wants to use us as salt and light.
  • But many times being salt and light requires stepping out. We have to be like Jonathan saying, “Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf” (1 Sam 14:6).

Be a Jonathan and take that step out. Share your faith. Invite someone to church. See what the Lord will do on your behalf.

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