Monday, May 20, 2013

Salt and Light Attitude

             Yesterday, our pastor asked a question that I have been chewing on ever since. He asked, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” As I pondered on this question I had to search my heart and examine myself before the Lord. Do I live as Christ desires me to live? Do I live as a Christian before the world? If I stood in a roomful of people, some worldly, some Christians, would you see me as a part of the world or as a partaker of Christ? There are areas in my life in which I would have to admit I have not fully surrendered to Christ. Our pastor taught yesterday that being a Christian is more than just church on Sunday’s, it is a daily commitment to Jesus Christ, a laying down of ourselves so that we can pick up Christ and live for Him. In this we honor Christ and we become the salt and light of this world.
          “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor; how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
                Jesus does not tell us we can be salt and light, He tells us that we are salt and light. Salt, as most of us know, is a preservative, and in the times of Jesus salt was highly sought after. It was considered a precious spice. Do you know how precious you are to God? He desires to sprinkle your life upon the lives of others. Salt is used metaphorically by Jesus to show us how we are to live out our faith before men, and the world. It is also emblematic of the holiness of Christ. Without salt the world in which we live will die and decay. But the salt that you are as a Christian is meant to be sprinkled upon the hearts of all who you come into contact with, salt is the grace and wisdom in our speech.
                Jesus tells us that we are also the “light of the world”. The word Light is not just a light, but it means to “give light”. It is an action word used to describe something we are to do, and to be. It is a light that reaches the minds of those who are in the world. David Guziak writes, “Light of the world means that we are not only light-receivers, but also light-givers. We must have a greater concern than only ourselves, and we cannot live only to ourselves; we must have someone to shine to, and do so lovingly…Jesus never challenges us to become salt and light. He simply said that we are- and we are either fulfilling or failing that given responsibility.”

                Salt then is the grace and the wisdom that comes from our lips and readies the hearts of those who need to hear Christ. It prepares their hearts to receive the light of Christ as it shines upon them. Salt, the grace and mercy for sinners that Christ has, penetrates to the deepest parts of a sinner’s heart so that the light of Christ can permeate into their minds as well. Salt allows the heart to receive and the mind to believe that Christ is who He says He is, and sprinkles upon the hearts the truth of His salvation. We are to be the salt, we are to be living in this world as Salt shakers, showing grace and shining before all men the light of Jesus Christ, in our words and in our deeds. As we live out our faith before the world, Christ is then able to be seen clearly by all those who look upon it.
                But how then are we to live as Salt and Light upon this earth? In the world we live in today, if you are a Christian you are considered a joke, or even worse, you are persecuted for your beliefs. This is where I found myself examining the type of salt and light that I give forth, and whether or not I would be convicted of being a Christian. If we back up to the beginning of Chapter 5 we will see the qualities of a Christian, the evidence of true faith in believers who desire to be Salt and Light.
                Jesus lays out before us the “Beatitudes.” When I read the title for Chapter 5 I like to think of them as “Be…Attitudes,” these are the attitudes in which I am to walk, talk, and live before a dark and hopeless world. These “attitudes” were seen in Christ and must also be seen in me if I am to convince the world of Jesus Christ and the life that He gave for them.
1)      “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(vs.3) The first attitude is Humility. We are to be stripped of our pride and sensitive to God’s ministry, His Salvation, on behalf of the world.
2)      “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (vs.4) The next attitude that Jesus gives us is Sensitivity. We are to be responsive to our own personal sinfulness and tenderhearted towards one another. We forget that Jesus ate with sinners, He walked with sinners, He talked with sinners, and He tells us to do the same. Sinners have a disease too, the same one you have. They need to see Jesus, and the only hope for their healing is the Salt and Light that Jesus tells us we are.
3)      “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (vs. 5) Meekness is a demonstration of self-control and a willing submission to God the Father and His will. He desires for our complete and total surrender. When we disobey God and willfully sin, our salt has lost is flavor.
4)      “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (vs. 6) The hunger and thirst is a desire to live for God alone, it is a desire to please Him and not man. Man will not always receive your salt and the light of Christ into their hearts, but God desires it, and therefore, we should always strive to please Him. If you are only spending time with God on a Sunday and not partaking in a daily walk with Christ, then the salt that you are sprinkling is your own, and not God’s. Meekness is also a form of obedience to God; it is a desire to hear and to do the will of God.
5)      “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (vs. 7) Compassion, where is compassion? Compassion is an outworking of our faith to meet the needs of others. We put such priority on ourselves and seek forgiveness for ourselves, but are unwilling to forgive the sins and mistakes of others. Compassion defines the ministry of Jesus Christ. Compassion is what we saw when Jesus willingly and lovingly hung upon the cross. We have been shown great compassion, should we not give it as well?
6)      “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (vs.8) This next “attitude” refers to Holiness. Holiness is a life set apart for God, not only in our outward deeds, but in our thoughts and in our actions. The Bible tells us that God, who called us, is Holy; therefore, we are to be holy. God set apart His own life for us; we should willingly set aside ours for him. (Lev. 11;44-45; 1 Peter 1:16)
7)      “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (vs. 9) Peacemakers, not an attitude I see much of these days in a culture that fights and wars among itself. Even in the church we see strife and division, and these things ought not to be so. To be a peacemaker means that we seek reconciliation. We forbear instead of retaliate, we forgive instead of judge; and we seek restoration in fellowship and in our relationships with others.
8)      “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (vs. 10) This attitude speaks of commitment. A steadfast, loyal commitment to God which cannot be broken. No matter what happens, we stand for God and for His Word. We do not allow the winds to toss us every which way, but we become sold out for Jesus Christ. There is nothing anyone can do to sway our faith in Him.
9)      “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you, falsely for My sake.”  (vs. 11) The last attitude is a hard one, for any of us, no matter how sold out we are, because our flesh desires to live comfortably, but when we desire to be the attitudes that Jesus has laid forth for us, we will suffer persecution. This last attitude is an attitude of patience. It is a willingness to endure the sufferings that will come when we live a life sold out for Jesus. The more salt and light you put into this world, the more persecution will come. But when you are placed on trial for being a Christian, the evidence of these attitudes will convince the world around that God is your Father, and He is the Only Way to be saved.
              Charles Spurgeon writes, “Poor world, Poor world, it is dark and gropes in midnight, and it cannot give light except it receives it through us...To be the light of the world surrounds life with the most stupendous responsibilities, and so invests it with the most solemn dignity. Hear this, ye humble men and women, ye who have made no figure in society, ye are the light of the world, if ye burn dimly, dim is the world’s light, and dense is its darkness.”
            We are the Salt of the earth, and we are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they see and glorify God in heaven. Let us allow Christ to work in us the attitudes that He has laid before us. Let us search out our own hearts and lay before Jesus Christ a willing heart to live before men and rejoice with one another in the light that we have been given. Let your light so shine that they see your good works and glorify God in you and through you, and may the salt that we sprinkle on their hearts ready them to receive the light that will bring them to the knowledge of Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. To Him be the glory, now and forever, amen and amen.