Be Salt & Light

In Matthew Chapters 5-7 our Lord delivered what we call the Sermon on the Mount. In Chapter 5 verses 13-16 He says about believers…

13 “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. 14  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:13-16)

How do we become salt and light? It happens when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. It’s in our spiritual DNA. Believers are salt and light just because we are believers. What an amazing realization! We have the potential to season the world with grace, the power to preserve the world from total moral decay, and the opportunity to shine forth the light of God where ever we go. Salt and light are metaphors for how believers are to be engaging our world for Christ. Our world includes our homes, our workplaces, our families, our friends, our co-workers, etc. It’s anyplace we happen to be at any given time. When we are living as salt and light our lives tend to be more winsome and attractive to those around us. But Jesus warns that salt can lose its flavor. Take the salt in the Dead Sea for example. I’ve heard that it looks like regular salt, but it has so much other stuff mixed in with it that it is neither good for seasoning food or for meat preservation. Today it’s sold as Bath Salts over the Internet. Is it possible for the Christian to look like salt without actually being salt? The Christian runs the risk of losing his flavor when he loses sight of his purpose for living. Our purpose for living is to know God and to bring Him glory. So being salt and light is more than doing good works alone. We must be careful that our good works are done in such a way that folks see Whose Light is shining through us so that they might glorify God as a result.

A little further down in the sermon Jesus warns us about using outward performance alone to gauge our righteous standing before God…

20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:20) [Emphasis mine]

Even the Scribes and the Pharisees, the masters of keeping the outward requirements of the Moral Law, were falling short of its inward intent. Notice that Jesus did not minimize the importance of good works in the life of a believer. However, He said our righteousness should go deeper than just doing good works. He told His followers to go beyond the external and to cultivate the inner man. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were experts at doing good deeds but it caused them to become proud and self-righteous. Our Lord said that when we do our charitable deeds, when we pray, or when we fast that we should not do it as the hypocrites do (Matt 6: 2, 5, 16). He did not say not to do these things but He said not to do them “to be seen by men.” He assumed we would be doing good works, but our motivation should be love for God and love for one another. It’s interesting that in Matthew 5:1-9 that Jesus started off His Sermon by declaring that we are blessed when we possess certain characteristics. I believe these are the prerequisites to being salt and light…

Poor in spirit…Those who Mourn…Meek…Hungering and thirsting after righteousness…Merciful…Pure in Heart…The peacemakers

It is important to understand that our righteousness does not come from our good works. Our righteousness comes from our position “in Christ”. Our good works should flow from our connection to God as we practically live in light of the realization that we were lost and without any hope in this world (Ephesians 2:11-13). That realization should give us a deeper appreciation for what God has done for us and should create a humble spirit within the believer not a proud one.

As we see our world growing darker being salt and light becomes an even more vital part of our Christian Walk. Look at what else Jesus said we would be considered blessed for…

10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:10-12)

You have probably heard of the incidents in recent years where Public School policies and the religious freedoms of Christian Students have collided with one another. There have been children who were not allowed to read their Bible at school, Class Valedictorians who were not allowed to mention God in their Graduation Addresses, Cheerleaders who were not allowed to use Bible verses in their event banners, and children who were not allowed to pray over their meal in a school cafeteria. There have also been a number of cases of small businesses (e.g. a photography studio in New Mexico, a Floral Artist in Washington State, and a Bakery in Oregon) being punished because they chose not to participate in same sex wedding celebrations due to their “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

In 1 Peter (3:13-17 and 4:12-19) the Apostle tells us to expect persecution to come and the cases mentioned above show that it has arrived. But he also tells us to make sure that we don’t suffer persecution because we are evildoers who deserve it. That’s even more reason for us to be salt and light. Peter tells us to have compassion for one another, to love as brothers, to be tenderhearted, to be courteous, not to return evil for evil, and to be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. He wrote these things to a people that were in the midst of persecution. We know that many non-believers will love the darkness and hate the light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19-21). Peter’s expectation was that at least some of the non-belivers around us would want to know how we maintain our hope in the midst of such persecution and that we might have an opportunity to share the love of Christ with them. But that necessitates that we have not burned all our bridges with the unbelievers we live among.


Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments deal with our relationships (Matt 22:34) –loving God and loving our neighbors. Being salt and light improves the quality of all of our relationships. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus tells his disciples to love our enemies…to do good to those who spitefully use us and persecute us…to bless those who curse us. That is radical! You may be asking “how do I do that”? The Apostle Paul in speaking about the dangers of relying on performance of good deeds for our justification before God said this 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Ga 2:20–21). Christ lives in us and He wants to live through us. We need to let Him.


I read an article about a study that discovered that Kindness and Generosity are the key ingredients to lasting relationships which make successful marriages. If those social scientists had read the New Testament they could have saved lots of time and money. Imagine the impact that being salt and light could have on our marriages and our families. My pastor once asked, while sharing that some politicians were quoted in the Media as warning against Religious Extremism of any kind…”Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world full of people who love to the extreme”? That sounds good to me.

One Response to “Be Salt & Light”

  1. Mike K says:

    Nice blog, Pastor Bob! Great insight into our being salt and light in a dark and “saltless” world. Thanks,PB!

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