Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:13-16, 6:1-18
As I read through Matthew’s account of the famous Sermon on the Mount, I found two portions of the message that come across as complete opposites. Would Jesus contradict himself? No, He would not. This caused me to look closer to find the difference in what Jesus is saying and how our understanding of these two instructions can be seen as consistent with each other.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13-16).
Jesus describes the VISIBILITY of our lives. When we accept Him as our personal Savior, we become representatives of Him to all those around us. We bear His name when we are considered to be Christians, and with that comes responsibility. We are to be a light to those around us who are in darkness. Our presence in a room, job, our community, the world, is to make a difference – to add flavor.
In the same respect, if those around us know us to be Christians and we fail in representing Christ with holy lives, the influence of our lives loses its flavor. Can it be made salty again?
We are not perfect and there may be times when we mess up. If so, how can we go back and regain our “salty” impact on those we know. Will they forever consider our testimony worthless or can we humbly admit our fault and try to regain what has been lost? Humility is the key ingredient in the world regaining their taste for our testimony.
May those around us see good deeds coming out of our walk with Christ so that our Heavenly Father can be praised! But wait. That sounds the opposite of what Jesus continues to say in this same sermon, which carries over to chapter six.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity. I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).
Again, VISIBILITY comes down to humility. Jesus is not contradicting himself here but instead looking for CONSISTENCY OF THE HEART. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world so that God can be glorified and receive the praise. We are not to call attention to our good deeds for the sake of human applause. We are to live out our lives before men for the sake of God’s Kingdom being advanced, not for our own advancement.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
“Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins, as we have forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:5-15).
One more challenge. What if we take this last verse we looked at today and loop it around to the first verse. We are the salt of the earth, but is we refuse to forgive another person, whether we have just cause or not, how will the world taste Jesus? Unforgiveness in our lives will overpower the potential of the good flavors.
Think about this. If we create a delicious omelet full of meat, cheese and vegetables, but throw in even one rotten egg, the entire meal is spoiled. Let’s not spoil our impact today with a rotten attitude about anyone or anything. May our lives be consistent with our testimony, so that God will be glorified in every aspect of our day. After all, what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?