Only Christians can season and give light to the world, thereby making it more habitable.
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
This lesson draws inspiration from two all too common features of our existence. They are salt and light. Though only a minute fraction of the world’s population understands their chemical and physical composition and characteristics, all humans have need of them. Salt is a commodity, while light is a form of energy. According to Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, salt was so valuable in ancient times that it was used for money. In-fact our modern word salary is derived from it. The Latin word salarium means “salt money” and referred to the allowance of salt that was paid to Roman soldiers. “Salt is valuable as a preservative and it is essential to the health of humans and animals. Light on the other hand, is not a commodity that is tangible to the sense of touch but a form of energy like fire, wind, etc. Though it cannot be handled, humans, animals, and plants cannot do without light for a sustained period of time. Its use for plant growth via the process of photosynthesis, and our dependence on plants for our existence underscores the importance of light. It is these two features of our existence one that is physically tangible and the other that we can feel and sense that the Lord Jesus used to draw some secrets of the kingdom. Of salt, Vine’s Expository Dictionary states, “In the Lord’s teaching it (salt) is also symbolic of that spiritual health and vigor and counteractive of the corruption that is in the world. “Light is used of the Christian in relation to his capacity to illuminate the earth and eliminate spiritual darkness caused by sin and evil works. In essence then, when Jesus indicated that we are the salt and the light of the world, he was emphatically stating that we are the only ones who can reverse the social and moral decay of modern civilization. How many believers recognize this fact? When we do, all in and around our places of residence, work and worship will notice our preserving and illuminating influences.
The objectives of this study are:
- To know common uses of salt
- To know how the Christian can be the salt of the earth
- To know common uses of light
- To know how the Christian can be the light to the world
- To know the consequences of failing to be salt and light to our world
Q1. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON USES OF SALT?
Salt serves as a preservative in the food industry, it has been utilized by many peasant farmers in our villages for preserving fish and other animal products. Its use arises from its ability to destroy a wide variety of micro-organisms that attach and promote decay and degradation of their host.
Salt also serves as a valuable condiment in flavoring a wide variety of edible food items. It is an item that no household can afford to do without. (Remember those embarrassing, moments when you have to t, call your neighbors across the way to give you some) We must add that like every substance of use to humans, when it is applied out of proportions it makes the food unpalatable.
It is also vital that humans take some amount of salt in order to achieve balanced health. It is known that short-term deprivation of salt can cause nausea and general body weakness, while long-term deprivation can cause dehydration, a progressive drop in blood pressure, coma, and finally death. However, excessive consumption of salt can also be harmful and is known to contribute to high blood pressure. Salt also finds use in many industrial and commercial activities. It is known to be quite useful in curing animal hides and the manufacture of many industrial chemicals. In countries where snow occurs, salt has found quite good use in removing ice from snow covered highways.
Q2. WHAT THEN IS EXPECTED OF THE BELIEVERS AS SALT OF THE EARTH?
Individuals are saved by the Lord not just so that they can go to Heaven but to preserve a posterity for Him. This fact is best illustrated by the miraculous upliftment that the Lord gave to Joseph from being prisoner to “…ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:43). To his brothers who sought his destruction he had this to say “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance (Genesis 45:7). That may as well be why you were the first to get saved in your home, your office, your school, or your neighborhood. As salt of the earth, the Lord would want to use you to draw others to His kingdom. May we add that heaven is guaranteed for the saved when they are living as salt of the earth in getting others saved. What readily comes to mind is the question: how do we in practice achieve being salt of the earth?
Our conduct and lifestyle provide a commanding testimony for the Lord. Unbelieving folks are always challenged when they see a person whose character is of the usual cursing, cheating, lying, backbiting, stealing, fornicating etc. It just does not sound normal to unbelievers for a single man or lady to be chaste in moral conduct. When they are confronted with that kind of conduct, they want to probe the source, and that may eventually lead them to Christ. One aspect of our conduct which is always challenging to both believers and unbelievers is the content of our conversation. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). James tells us that a Christian who has allowed the Holy Spirit to bridle his tongue is a perfect man (James 3:2). As salt of the earth, we must train our lips to be used of the Holy Spirit to build and edify others. This is particularly necessary in the home, with respect to the relationship between husband and wife.
Another way we can be salt of the earth is by interceding for unsaved people and our nation (Genesis 18:22-33, Exodus 32:9-14). There are many unsaved persons that we may never come in contact with, and there is very little we may be able to do to change the political, economic, and social direction of our nation. But on our knees, we can effectively change the destiny of peoples and nations. Jacob was an example of a man who wrestled with God in prayers and that changed the course of his life and his posterity. “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).
We can also salt our world when we give a witness to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to unbelievers. This witness could be by group or by person-to-person evangelism. Many have come to know the Lord this way, and their lives turned around for good.
Q3. WHAT ARE THE COMMON USES OF LIGHT?
As earlier alluded to, light is one of the most common forms of energy. Of particular importance to all living things is the light from the sun whose radiation is used by plants for production of food out of carbon dioxide and water.
Light is also quite useful in making things visible. This is very essential for human activities to take place.
It is difficult to imagine life without any form of light. (Frequent power outages at night time underscores this point).
Q4. THE KIND OF DARKNESS THE WORLD IS IN IS NOT A PHYSICAL ONE.
It is not arising from lack of the light from the sun. It is a spiritual one. It is darkness arising from the evil deeds of people. John 3:19 states “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”. In a general sense, the world has rejected the gospel of Christ and aligned itself with the devil (John 14:16-17). The outcome is that men desire to do evil, and that thrives when spiritual darkness prevails. When the Lord Jesus was revealed in the land of Palestine, the ray of the light of God overtook the land: “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16). In the same way, when a community opens its doors to the gospel, darkness is dispelled, and the light of God prevails. In such communities, crime and social vices are known to be at very low levels.
Q5. HOW CAN BELIEVERS BE LIGHT TO THE WORLD?
We shall take instruction from the letter to Paul to the Ephesians: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:11-14). The very presence of believers in any situation brings light to that environment, and consequently the deeds of darkness become exposed. This is not witch hunting. Believers will always shed light on evil deeds by virtue of their ungodly ways and deeds. They expose the works of darkness as they present a totally different lifestyle and character than that which the world is used to. When the world is busy short-changing others in order to out-smart them, the believer presents a godly disposition of love and care for others. When the world considers it fashionable to make sex a free for all affair, the believer declares that is ordained of God only in marriage. By these actions, the works of darkness are exposed.
Q6. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO BE THE SALT AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD?
When believers fail to be salt and light to their communities, we must understand that it is not that they stop attending church or fellowship nor do they stop carrying their bibles nor do they stop preaching to others. These spiritual activities continue but they have practically no effect on unbelieving folks. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:13-15). When we fail to be salt and light, the world sees us as phonies and hypocrites. People around would give a big laugh as we go about our spiritual activities. They would not take us seriously when we preach to them. They think of us more as actors rather than real. While we will not persuade them to consider giving their lives to Christ, we may actually make them a lot more hardened to the gospel. Even when other believers preach to them, they may be very reluctant to accept Christ because of our bad example.
When we fail to be salt and light, we could drift completely out of faith and be damned to eternal condemnation (1 Corinthians 10:12). Our eternal heavenly home can only be guaranteed as we consistently live as salt and light of our world.
Daily Living Application:
The effectiveness of the believer in our present dispensation is called to question as cases of compromise are rife. We should acknowledge that salt can and does sometimes lose its flavor, and then it becomes valueless, while light can become dim, thereby give room to darkness. Our world does not need more bible carrying and church going Christians, but Christians who will challenge its lifestyle and way of living by a commanding Christian conduct and lifestyle. The only way believer can demonstrate this kind of lifestyle is to seek the face of God for fresh power of the Holy Spirit to live to honor God in all spheres of their endeavors. There can be no better time to do this than now, realizing that our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”