Shake It Out and Shine
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
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 by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Here is a different way to translate this familiar scripture:
Salt and Light - Matthew 5:13-16 (The Message)
13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven
“Let me tell you why you are here!” Why are we here?
- We are here to be a disciple of Christ.
- If we are here to be disciples then we ought to check out / examine what the teacher who called us to be a disciple has to say.
- Jesus uses multiple metaphors and images to describe our purpose. Two of those discipleship metaphors are found right after the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.
- Jesus describes who we are by calling us to be the salt and light.
- They define the character of a disciple. We are salt, we are light!
The question is not whether we are salt and light – the question is are we functioning as salt and light?
We are to live out our Christian discipleship where God has placed us.
What does it mean to be salt and light? Let us take a look who we are to be.
- In the ancient world salt was a vital staple as a preservative, healing agent, and as seasoning. Let’s look at 3 aspects of being the salt of the earth: the status of being salt, the significance of being salt and the seriousness of being salt. Let us take a look at the character of salt and its importance for Jesus’ disciples.
- What does it mean to be the salt of the earth? Notice something Jesus is not asking for volunteers. He is straight forward calling us to be the salt of the earth.
- He is not providing us a signup sheet to put our names down for a block of times that we might be the salt.
- If you are following Christ – you call yourself a Christian then you are the salt of your earth.
- When Jesus uses the word earth and later world He is talking about the piece of terra firma that we call home, work, school, play. That little piece of geography that we live in is earth and world.
- Salt, as a preservative was critical for people of that time. It was the only way they had to preserve food.
- Farmers would slaughter and animal, carve it up and then rub raw mineral salt into it until the meat was penetrated with the salt – until it was dissolved. This prevented the meat from decaying.
- Simply speaking it was used to keep things from going bad. So if we are to be salt of the earth we have a rather difficult appointment in life and that is keeping others from going bad.
- Don’t complicate what Jesus is saying here. One of the reasons we are here is to keep others from decaying. Temptations, worldly attitudes and then eventually sin are the decaying element of life. As there is fruit in our lives there is also the weeds – sinful desires cause decay.
Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- We are responsible for others and their relationship with Christ. Without Christ there is decay. Without the Lord we are lost.
- Salt is also used for flavoring. Food without salt is tasteless and so is the world without Christ’s disciples. The Christian life ought to flavor life. We need to spice life up a little. Get things going – life need not be boring or bland.
- Christianity is to life what salt is to food; it adds flavor. The tragic thing about Christianity is that many people of the faith come across as sour faced, complaining, dead beats.
- In the world we live in we need some flavor – saltiness that will create a Christian flavor about things.
- The significance of being salty. Couple things about salt are that first off salt absorbed into food as we should as salty believers. Salt is not obvious to the sight after it comes out. It isn’t visible to the naked eye once it is absorbed into the food. But when we taste the food we know it is there. As Christians we don’t need to be showy and always visible we need to affect those around us with salt. Let me give you a simple example:
- Let us say that you are retired and have an opportunity to give of your time to different organizations like the Pantry or you make yourself available to help an elementary child improve their reading skills. You can be salt in those opportunities as you drive a person to a doctor’s office or help a student learn to enjoy reading.
- Salt in many parts of the world is used for preserving food. It arrests corruption. As Christians we are called to rescue the perishing. We have been placed in the world to make a difference.
- People wonder what is wrong with America and we get all kinds of complaints and suggestions how we might stop the violence or drugs in America.
- The answer lies with us – are we functioning as salt and stopping the decay in America.
- Salt was used to purity things well as salt we need to begin to purity the world we live in.
- There is a warning here – listen carefully to the warning if we lose our saltiness we are going to be thrown out. It can’t be made salty again – it has lost its flavor and is good for nothing.
- Now let us turn on the light. Let us look at the other characteristic called light. We are to shine for God. We are to let our light so shine before others that they see our good deeds and realize who the author of these good deeds is. He is Christ Jesus living in us.
- What is the purpose of light? The purpose is to dispel darkness, to chase away the murkiness of existence. Without light we have no life.
- Have ever been in cave and they turn out the lights? You can’t see your hand even 6 inches from your face. To live without Christians people are living in that darkness.
- When you live in darkness there is no ray of light or life and you are unable to find your way home. Home is where we belong so the Light has to be turned on
- The way others see the Light, Jesus Christ is through our good works. Not through words but works.
- The word that is translated as good in the Greek comes from two words that mean to be good in quality and attractive. Our good ness should attract others.
- They should see us and be attracted to the way we live.
Listen to this story about a Vietnam Vet.
A university professor tells of being invited to speak at a military base one December and there meeting an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. Ralph had been sent to meet him at the airport. After they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim.
As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing. Once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open. Once to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus, again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a smile on his face.
"Where did you learn that?" the professor asked.
"What?" Ralph said.
"Where did you learn to live like that?"
"Oh," Ralph said, "during the war, I guess." He then told the professor about his tour of duty in Vietnam, how it was his job to clear mine fields, how he watched his friends blow up before his eyes, one after another.
"I learned to live between steps," he said. "I never knew whether the next one would be my last, so I learned to get everything I could out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it down again. Every step I took was a whole new world, and I guess I've been that way ever since."
The abundance of our lives is not determined by how long we live, but by how well we live.
- James tells us that faith without works is dead and we need to not only be shakin’ our salt we better turn on our light. People know that we are Christians by what they see. Our works of service are as important as our saltiness that people don’t always see.
- Our good deeds are to be seen for one purpose and that is to shine the light on to Christ. Whatever we do we do so that Christ might be glorified. Our light is a directional light pointing to the light of the world.
Simply put when you shake and shine, you influence others, which, is defined this way – “the act of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.
I would like to close with 3 don’t:
- Don’t over do it. – Salt is better sprinkled on food and so are we. Give them a taste of Christ and then they will be attracted to Him for themselves.
- Don’t hold back. – Take a risk with good works. Be honest when others when asked about why you shine and shake. When you live the life of faith you will attract the attention of others by your style of living.
- Don’t worry about the few who resist you. – Nobody bats a thousand. Some even walked away from the Lord. We shouldn’t worry about those who reject the salt and resist the light.
- Just shake it out and shine.