You may have heard the expression that Christians are the salt and the light of the world, but what does that actually mean?
““You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
Light of the World
The “light” part isn’t that mysterious. Light illuminates the darkness; it helps people see and allows them to do things they couldn’t without it.
For Christians to be “the light of the world” we should shine in the darkness, spread the Light of Jesus and the hope of salvation, help others “see” the truth, and, through Jesus Christ, empower them to live triumphantly in faith, hope, and love.
To accomplish this we should also heed verse fifteen, “Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house.” If we hide our light, if we conform to the world, if we don’t live out our faith, and work toward sharing it, how then can we be “the light of the world”?
Salt of the Earth
The “salt” part, on the other hand, may leave you wondering. Naturally it doesn’t make much sense for Christians to be sour and gritty. Adding flavor to a dull world makes a little more sense, but it still leaves your understanding a little hazy. If we equate “saltiness” with “life” and “vitality” then we could assume that we’re not supposed to be “lifeless” and “idle”, which we’re certainly not.
However, I think the primary definition in the usage of “salt” in this passage of scripture is “preservation”. (A fact about which I came to be more fully enlightened during family devotional time one night; we’ve been reading a book by Charles Swindoll and he touched upon this topic.) You see, way back when, they apparently used salt to preserve fish and help keep it from going bad. If you look at this way, then Christians are supposed to be an agent of “preservation” in the world; to help preserve others from the devil and destruction and to help keep them from “going bad”.
So what does it mean to be the salt and light of the world?
- be active
- endeavor to “preserve” our fellow human beings from destruction
- shine in the darkness, spread the Light of Jesus and the hope of salvation
- help others “see” the truth
- and empower them to live triumphantly in faith, hope, and love.
Dear Lord, help us be the salt and the light of the earth that will preserve and sustain; help us to shine, to illumine the night, and be a guiding light for Your glory and gain.
“Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16