In speaking to His followers, Jesus called us, “the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). Practically, what does it mean to be salt and light?
Salt has at least three key characteristics:
- It keeps food from spoiling
- It enhances flavor
- It makes one thirsty
We can see each of those characteristics playing out in the life of one who is following Jesus. We are to retard the growth of bad influences around us; enhance the enjoyment of life itself; and by example to make others thirst for Christ.
Light too has at least three key qualities:
- It dispels darkness
- It illumines one’s path through life
- It exposes evil
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV) And Ephesians 5:8-13 explains:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” (NIV)
Before we look at how to practically live as salt and light, consider first what renders salt and light useless. Jesus warns us about not letting our “saltiness” diminish or hiding our “light.” Here are a few things that come to mind that render “salt” and “light” useless or powerless. Perhaps you can think of others.
- Hypocrisy or having a show of religion without any real substance
- Having a judgmental spirit
- Living like the world
- Pride, bitterness, complaining, loveless, anger, slander, gossip, etc.
Living as Salt & Light
Here’s an important point: When we live as salt and light, we’re not trying to attract attention to ourselves but to Jesus. Our intent is not to show the world how good we are but how good Jesus is. We want to help make others thirsty for Him. In other words, we want people to see Jesus in us.
How do we do that? Through our life and words. Above all, we must spend time in the presence of Jesus. Jesus called this “abiding” or “remaining” in Him in John 15. Paul refers to this as living and walking in the Spirit in Galatians 5.
For us to truly be salt and light in this world, we need to be transformed and we experience Christ’s transforming power in our lives when we live and walk with Him. For in His presence, we cannot remain unchanged!
We get know Jesus through spending time in His Word (the Bible), conversing with Him in prayer, and patterning our lives after those who are following Him. Being salt and light isn’t about rule-keeping but about relationships. We become like those with whom we spend time. When we spend time with Jesus and those who are following Him, we become like Him.
Let me leave you with the following passages. Each passage contains a call to action for us:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” – Colossians 3:16 NKJV
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” – Ephesians 5:8 NLT
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV