- Matthew 5:14-16: What Does It Mean to Be Salt and Light?
For the Whole of Their Life.
Matthew 5:14-16: What Does It Mean to Be Salt and Light?
Who is someone that you admire? Can you think of a person who you look up to? Take a moment now to think about someone that you look up to or that has influenced you over your lifetime — what is it about them that you admire?
Two people that I admire are, Daniel and Leila Abdallah. You may have heard about the Abdallahs in the news last year; three of their children and their cousin were tragically killed by a drunk driver in Sydney. The kids were together getting ice cream on night when an out-of-control vehicle mounted the footpath and hit them; killing them instantly. Since this sad incident, the Abdallah family have taken incredible steps to forgive the driver who killed their children... imagine.
On February 1st this year, on the anniversary of their children's death, the Abdallah's launched a national day of forgiveness called 'I 4GIVE DAY'. The family shared at a press conference that they made the difficult decision to forgive the drunk driver for the sake of their other three children that are still alive — so that their children could live a full life after this tragedy and not witness their parents be overcome with grief and bitterness.
'We had to make a choice on which path we wanted to take... the more you practice the better you become at it, and it allows you to live peacefully and to heal. Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven'. — Daniel and Leila Abdallah
Fact or Fiction: I'm Just Not That Creative? — Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up. Creativity is one way to let your light shine.
The Abdallah's encourage others to use this 'I 4GIVE DAY' as an opportunity to reflect on their relationships and cut bitterness out of their lives by reaching out to someone they may have disagreed with.
'If you're not talking to a friend, a brother or mother, it's time to reflect. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, You know what? I want to free myself from the bitterness and anger and forgive them. Or, ask for their forgiveness'. — Daniel Abdallah
What an incredible family, to go through the unspeakable pain of losing not just one child but multiple and still be able to take a stand and say to the person responsible, 'we forgive you'. I admire this family because they've done something outstanding and courageous. Nobody would have expected them to forgive the driver, everyone would have understood their pain. Their forgiveness is countercultural and influences me to think about the relationships in my own life and reflect on people that maybe I need to reach out to.
This year, the theme across all of St Philip's Christian College campuses is influence. This theme is based on the bible passage in Matthew 5:14-16; which is part of a famous sermon that Jesus is said to have shared with a crowd on the side of a mountain. You can read that sermon below:
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.”
At the time of this sermon, salt was quite valuable. It was used for trade and in the ancient world soldiers were received their wages in salt. Salt was and still is used to preserve food from decay. As salt is a preservative, in the Middle East when people were making an agreement or covenant with God, they would sprinkle it with salt as a sign that their agreement would last. That's how valuable salt was.
Salt many not be quite as valuable today as it was back then, but its still essential for our bodies and to sustain life on earth. Salt has its own distinct flavour that is easily recognisable. But in food, salt works best when it's used along side other food. Due to the chemical make up of salt, salt enhances flavours; having the ability to enhance sweetness and reduce bitterness.
Have you ever been at the movies and eaten popcorn and Maltesers in the same mouthful? And for some reason it just tastes soooo good; better than eating them separately? That's because the salt in the popcorn brings out the sweetness in the Malteser.
Salt isn't just important for its flavour, but it is used to bring out the flavours of the dishes around it — this is a beautiful analogy of how I believe we're not just supposed to bring out the best flavour in ourselves, but the bring out the best in those around us as well.
So, Jesus is asking us to bring out the best in others and enhance their individual flavour — just as God does so in us!
Jesus also asks us to be the 'light of the world' — what is he really say here? Lights are bright, glowing, attractive and if a light is on when it's dark, your eyes are drawn to it; like a moth to the flame. Lights are created with the purpose of being seen, to bring light and clarity into a situation where things are dark. If we are the light of the world, it means that we're acting in a way that is noticeably different — that stands out. Our actions are to stand out, in the same way that the forgiveness of the Abdallah's stands out to those around them and gives them hope. Our good behaviour should bring others to God. If Christians represent God well by loving others as He loves us, other people will see this and be drawn to God themselves.
These verses say that if we are the salt and light in our world, it will be noticeable to others — it will influence them and draw them to our God as we live the way He's asked us to. Because God has asked us to live countercultural — to not just look out for ourselves but to bring out the best in people around us and share the Gospel with them. We are to live our lives in a way that will bring life to those around us and influence them for good, just like Jesus did when he was here on earth.
What does it really mean to have influence?
To have influence means that you have the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone or something.
If you asked your children or a student about influence, they'd probably tell you about their favourite influencer on Tik Tok or Instagram — someone who gains fame from social media and uses it to promote a brand or a lifestyle.
Well, I reckon Jesus was a bit of both. He definitely influenced those around him; he loved people unconditionally, he challenged people's behaviours to help them grow and he was an influencer, he promoted God and His plan for all of us through the way he lived his life.
So what does it mean to be salt and light in our everyday life?
'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work'.
This means that when we read a verse in the bible like the Matthew verse, we've been talking about today, we need to not just read it but put it into action. Here are some ways you can practically be the salt and light in your everyday life:
- Show others grace and forgiveness
- Love others as much as God loves you (an infinite amount)
- Keep your word
- Speak kindly to others
- Do what is right, even when everyone else isn't doing it
- Be honest
- Encourage others and bring out the best in them
- Tell others about Jesus
Being the salt and light means that the way we live our lives stands out from other people. We behave with integrity, we bring out the best in others and positively influence those around us. And most importantly when people ask us what is different about us, we point them to God and give them the opportunity to have a relationship with God too.
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