Adopting God’s Purposes for Your Life
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
We have an identity as human beings. Our identity comes about as a result of several different factors. This is not an exhaustive list, but our family, our nationality, our regional identity, our school affiliations. Our job, our gifts and abilities, our accomplishments, and what our culture says about us all affect the totality of our identity.
What this passage says today is that we have a primary function or identity given to us by God because we are a part of His kingdom. Jesus uses two metaphors in this passage, but there is a calling here that is very concrete! His followers are identified as salt and light. You ARE the salt… You ARE the light… Finally there is an exhortation for us to embrace and function according to God’s plan and desire for our lives.
Let’s explore what Jesus means and then let’s agree to be this to the best of our ability!
- Follow Christ as the Salt of the Earth
- Salt preserves life by preserving food
This is not about flavor, unless it is avoiding the flavor of rot. There are many behaviors in our world that lead people on a path of death and decay. Abuse of people, abuse of drugs, abuse of alcohol. Selfishness, outbursts of anger, pursuit of money and possessions. Jealousy of other’s accomplishments, reputation, looks, intelligence, income, friends etc.
If you just look at the Ten Commandments and think of the opposite, that is the pathway of death!
If you look at the fruit of the flesh in Galatians 5, the spiral of sin in Romans 1 there are lists of behaviors that are common among people that lead to death.
When people are invested in the wrong things for their blessings in life, then the inevitable result is conflict and every evil thing.
James 3: 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
We act as salt when we live in the pathway of life. We encourage others to have the courage to say “no” to their desires that seek to lead them away from God.
- See yourself as life support
In groups of people we all function as positive supports or negative weights.
We either help to lessen the burdens of life or else we cause burdens.
If we will just stay out of each other’s way that would be a start, but we must interact with people. If we interact in a loving considerate manner, then we will be supporting life.
Phil 2: 3-5 are some of the most important words in the Bible to me. They say:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
- This is an ongoing effort
Salt can lose its saltiness. The metaphor starts to break down here, because salt does lose its saltiness when it is used. And that is not what Jesus has in mind. What He has in mind is that we must act as a preserver of life or else we are not salty.
Even if we mess up and create relationship trouble for ourselves, we have a calling to confess our sins to each other. Acknowledge, Apologize and Act! Fix the trouble that we participate in making.
Romans 12:18 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
How much salt, compared to the volume of meat, does it take to preserve the meat? A lot less than the meat. I believe there is a lesson here about followers of Jesus realizing that they will be in the minority numerically, but can preserve the life of a family, work place, neighborhood or even a church.
If we will love and serve like Jesus, then our actions will help to preserve life! Decay and rot take time. (The sins of the Amorites have not yet reached their full measure.) Genesis 6 doesn’t follow Genesis 3 immediately.
Abraham gets God to agree to spare Sodom if only 10 righteous men could be found there.
The way that we are salt and light is actually the same, but the force of our actions are different. Salt preserves. Light reveals! This is the second aspect of our identity revealed here by Jesus.
- You are the Light of the World
- Biblical examples of light
God: I John 1: 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.
Jesus: John 1: 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
John 8:12 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 9: 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
God’s Word: The Bible:
Psalms 119 the whole thing. But for an example verse 105 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
- Light is knowledge of God and His ways
As Jesus calls it in John 8:12 the light of life!
John 9 the story of the man born blind is a real story that acts as a teaching parable about spiritual blindness and the need for light.
There is a man who is physically blind and Jesus heals him so that he might see. There are people who are in authority in this man’s life who are spiritually blind and they cannot see that Jesus has done this great miracle and therefore, Jesus is at the very least a great prophet!
They interview people over and over working to get them to affirm their preconceived notions about reality and what God is doing. When that does not work, they discredit those who testify.
Finally Jesus says: John 9: 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness.
- Light always works against darkness
If you shine, light will shine. What people do with the light is up to them. You are to shine!
John 1: 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
You cannot hide a city on a hill
You don’t light a lamp and then cover it up. This brings us to our final point. It is the exhortation from Jesus to us to SHINE!!
III. Let Your Light Shine
- Our light shines through our good works
Memorize verse 16!
Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are created to do good works.
God has prepared good works for us to do before we get to them.
- Good works look like Jesus’ works
Luke 15: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Parable of the Lost Sheep, Coin and finally, the Lost Son.
The point of the Lost Son is a rebuke of the Jewish people for not having the attitude of God toward sinful people.
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
John 13: Jesus washes the disciples feet:
John 13: 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
John 13 Jesus gives a new commandment!
John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan. The definition of who I can kick out of the neighbor group.
I John 4: 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
- When we do good works, we glorify God
One sense of glorify is to make shine. We make God shine when we do His works! We live out His image.
This is our created purpose, to glorify God. To sin, according to Romans 3 is to fall short of the glory of God.
So, be good! You won’t make your way into heaven because of it, but it’s still incredibly important! We are created to be good. We get heaven as a free gift from God because we can’t “be good enough.”
Good works of being salt.
Good works of being light.
Good works of loving others.
Good works of caring for the needs of others.
Good works of loving your spouse, children, friends, classmates, teachers, rulers etc.
Good works of working hard at work.
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven!