You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, 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. (Matt. 5:13-14)
Part of our identity as believers in Jesus Christ is to be salt and light. This makes us not only distinctive but also useful for the furtherance of His kingdom. Let’s dive into this passage in Matthew 5:13-14 and determine what Jesus is revealing about who we are in Him.
What are salt and light?
Let’s start this discussion with a consideration of the natural uses of salt and light. Common salt functions as flavouring and seasoning for food. It is also a natural preservative. Light is used to illuminate the darkness. With this in mind, what is Jesus trying to impart to us in this famous statement?
In the ancient world, salt had a greater use than a flavour enhancer. Without refrigeration, food, particularly meat, would soon spoil. Salt was a preservative. Roman soldiers were paid their wages in salt, so it had great value. The Greeks essentially viewed it as divine. Even the covenant sacrifices of the Israelites had to be seasoned with salt.
And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt. (Lev. 2:13)
The value of salt in this analogy was not to be underestimated. As followers of Jesus, we ‘enhance’ the world around us with the peace, love and joy He has lavished upon us. After all, Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10) and we should demonstrate to the world what it means to live in abundance.
Even more important is our ability to ‘preserve’. For salt to be effective, it must first penetrate the food and then preserve it. In this way, we must invade the dark places of this earth and preserve it from the evil that pervades. Where there is grief and sorrow, we bring joy and hope. Where there is evil and corruption, we bring truth. Where there is injustice, war and strife, we bring peace and mercy. Above all, we love in purity and with compassion, not pity.
The purpose of light piercing darkness can also not be understated. Salt penetrates and preserves. Light illuminates and exposes. What does it expose? Darkness of all kinds.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11, emphasis added)
The entrance of His Word brings light (Ps. 119:130). We shine His light by spreading His Word–both the logos (written word) and the rhema (quickened word).
The gospel of Jesus Christ needs to penetrate the four corners of our globe through our saltiness and our anointing to shine His light. What happens if we lose our saltiness?…
How do we lose our saltiness?
Is this scientifically possible? Well technically, no. Salt (sodium chloride) is a very stable compound. It has a high melting point, is soluble in water and is very hard, yet brittle. It doesn’t matter how much you grind up solid salt, it will still be salt. You cannot unmake it by grinding it. The only way to separate salt is to dilute it in water. The molecules of water are able to pull the salt matrix apart. Wow…this is powerful. Let’s not miss an important analogy here. Salt can only be unmade when it is diluted in water.
If our saltiness–our ability to enhance and preserve–is diluted, it loses its effectiveness. How do we become diluted? If we blend in too easily to our postmodern culture we have probably lost our saltiness. Postmodernity champions the idea of relative truth over absolute truth. If truth is relative, then you can do what seems right to you–your own version of truth.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. (Prov. 21:2, emphasis added)
This ‘way’ is dangerous…
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Prov. 14:12, emphasis added)
The problem I have with postmodernity is its assumption truth is a concept. Truth is not a concept. It is a Person–Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6, emphasis added)
In the analogy Jesus uses, salt without saltiness is good for nothing except to be trampled on. In first-century Israel, salt was often collected from sources like the Dead Sea. This salt was frequently mixed with impurities making it diluted and less tasty. It still looked like salt–a white powder, but it didn’t taste very salty. When this happened it was thrown into the street and trampled just as Jesus said. This is an important warning to us. If we become diluted by culture and compromising on truth, we may still ‘look’ like salt, but we are useless for the kingdom. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be unfit for the kingdom of God. I don’t want to be so ineffective that people trample all over me.
Now don’t misunderstand me, uncompromising truth must still be spoken in love. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Don’t just love to speak the truth. Balance is necessary. You can love someone completely without agreeing with their lifestyle. They should see your light, your essence, your peace, your joy, your strength so clearly that it awakens a desire inside them for the same. This is the power of the gospel. Let’s not dilute it…
Let your light shine!
Christians who don’t take the gospel with them wherever they go are ineffective for the kingdom. We carry the very Spirit of God within us, and yet many of us are oblivious to this.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
We don’t just carry the solutions to the world’s problems, we ARE the solutions! If we shy away from our kingdom mandate because we are worried about how we are perceived then we have succumbed to the fear of man.
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. (Prov. 29:25, emphasis added)
I love the Passion Translation of this verse:
Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back. But when you place your confidence in the Lord, you will be seated in the high place (Prov. 29:25 TPT, emphasis added)
We are already seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), but we can’t operate from this place of power, authority and dominion if we allow fear and intimidation to speak louder than the light He has placed inside us. So…let your light shine! It brings glory to God.
Concluding thoughts and activation
Don’t hide what God has placed inside of you. You have greatness in you. You were created with a destiny and a purpose for such a time as this (Est. 4:14). God spoke you into this earth with a plan for your life. Don’t you want to know what it is? It’s far better than the plan you have for yourself…trust me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11 NLT)
If you want to activate into your saltiness and the light He has placed inside of you, pray this prayer with me:
Father, in the Name of Jesus, I choose to see myself the way You see me. I choose to let my light shine in the darkness. I repent, Lord, for allowing others’ opinion of me to matter more than who You say I am. I receive Your forgiveness. I am a child of God and I carry kingdom solutions. Grant me wisdom in abundance to transform the sphere of influence You have called me to. I will not lose my saltiness by diluting the truth of Your gospel. I will speak the truth boldly in love as Your Spirit leads. Amen.