Give Me That Mountain

Salt and Light

The Law and Grace. Day forty-four...

In the area where Jesus ministered, salt was primarily taken from the Dead Sea. Pure salt (NaCl) is very stable and will not lose its flavor unless it is diluted with water or contaminated with other substances. Apparently this Dead Sea salt was not pure and could become so contaminated by foreign substances that it no longer had any taste.

In practical terms, a diluted salt substance with no saltiness had no other use, but maybe to firm up a footpath by throwing it on any loose dirt. Jesus uses the illustration of this tasteless salt in teaching the multitudes on the mountain.

dead sea salt

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. Matthew 5:13‐16 (NKJV)

Yesterday, we studied the first part of this teaching by Jesus—the part where Jesus promises justice for those who pursue godliness.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3–12 (NKJV)

Notice how Jesus follows these promises with two statements of fact:

  • You are the salt of the earth
  • You are the light of the world

But I cannot accept, as a statement of fact, that I am actually the salt of the earth and the light of the world if I am out of touch with the part of me that is noble and decent (my spiritual nature). Such talk will only sound to me like motivational chatter, designed to get me to try a little harder to be a little better.

In fact, if I'm not tuned in to my spiritual nature, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” sounds a lot like just another demand God is putting on me—like all His other laws.

But Jesus does not try to appeal to the humanness of the crowd with external conditions, such as:

  • Blessed are those who want more sheep, for more sheep shall be theirs
  • Blessed are those who want more power, for people will bow before them
  • Blessed are those who want more pleasure, for pleasure will be theirs for the taking

Jesus appeals to those noble and decent ideals—those internal conditions that are struggling to be heard above all the noise of a human nature.

Please don't miss this paradigm shift.

Jesus speaks His blessing over any noble traits you or I might have, such as meekness and charity and a hunger to do what is good—traits that are rarely ever rewarded by the world around us. He even offers us some sort of a kingdom, at the same time the world is trying to take everything from us.

Are you hearing what Jesus is saying?

Jesus is empowering the best in you and the best in me. He is empowering us internally by speaking His blessing over our best.

And He is telling us to value those traits as if they are God‐given—because they are God‐given. He is telling us that we have a responsibility to value that part of us enough to salt the earth and light up the world.

If you love God and all things God, you have the power within you to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

You do not have to shelve the desires of your heart for safe‐keeping just because the world around you wants to devour them. God gave you those desires to be used—not stored. And His grace empowers you to use them.

When He says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” it's not another impossible commandment. It is an opportunity.

Have a good day,
Mike

Image credit: Mark Dries

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