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Matthew 5:13-16

You provide the salt and light of Jesus to the world.

Tom Faletti

April 21, 2024

Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt and light of the world


Salt has many useful properties.  What is salt good for?


In this passage, what good property of salt is Jesus focusing on (verse 13)?


The Greek word for “earth” in verse 13 is the same as the word for “earth” in verse 5.  It can mean soil, or a particular territory on the Earth, or the physical realm of existence (as in references to “heaven and earth”).  In this case, it can’t mean “soil” since salt is not generally a good thing for soil.


When Jesus says we are the salt of the “earth,” what do you think he means by “earth”?


Metaphorically speaking, in what ways can Christians be the kind of good “salt” that flavors the world around us or improves the taste of life?


Jesus says that salt that has lost its flavor is thrown out because it is not good for anything.  Since he is talking metaphorically about Christians, what is he saying about such Christians?


What do you need to do to keep being good salt in the world around you?  What adjustments in your Christian life might help you be the kind of person who is the kind of “salt” the world needs?


In verse 14, Jesus shifts to a different metaphor: light.  What does he say that we are?


In what ways are we meant to be like the light of a city that is built on a hill?


In this metaphor about light, what kind of light are we supposed to be shining?


According to Jesus in verse 16, what will people see in us when our light is shining properly?


What do you think he means when he says that when our light is shining, people will see our “good works”?  What do you think he means by “good works”?


What are some ways that Christians might put their light under a bushel?


What are some ways that we might put our light on a lampstand?


According to verse 16, why will people give glory to God when our light is shining properly?

Jesus says that when our light is shining properly, they will see our good works.


In our world today, many people who do not believe in Jesus do not think Christians are a light and don't see a reason to give glory to God.  It would be easy to blame this entirely on them.  Turn your focus toward ourselves for a minute.  How might Christians be interacting with the world in ways that do not shine a light – that are not seen as good works?


What can we do to be better lights in the world?



Take a step back and consider this:


Sometimes we assume that if non-Christians fail to see the light of Christ, it is because of their own obstinacy.  But we know that we are not perfect, so surely there are also times when the fault lies with how we are living out our faith or how we are representing Jesus to the world.


There is no light where there is no truth.  But sometimes we obscure the truth by pretending that things are simpler than they are.  When Christians claim that following Jesus is simple – “all you have to do is have faith” – people think we are saying that if they just believe, all their problems will go away.  They know that is not true, since Christians also have problems, so that message obscures the light.


Many young people find it hard to see the light of Christ in us because of the inadequate attention many of our churches give to the injustices that weigh heavily on the hearts of young people (and people of every age who hear the cry of oppressed peoples for justice).  When Christians uncritically support one political approach even though every political organization focuses on only some of God’s concerns for justice, or fail to address flaws in the churches themselves, people whose hearts cry for justice find it hard to see us as salt or light.


Our light can also be obscured by our lack of holiness.  If we only honor some of God’s commands, if we look like we mainly care about ourselves and people like us, if we fail to be engaged consistently in good works as our Lord told us to, then we should not be surprised that the world does not see us as salt and light.


Think about a time when you were not the kind of salt or light that effectively represented Jesus to the world.  What went wrong?


Think about a time when you were particularly effective at being the kind of salt or light that Jesus calls us to be.  What happened that allowed you to be salt or light?


How can you build habits that will allow the salt and light of Jesus to be communicated to the world around you more consistently?



Click here for the bibliography.

Copyright © 2024, Tom Faletti (Faith Explored, This material may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration, for nonprofit use, provided such reproductions are not sold and include this copyright notice or a similar acknowledgement that includes a reference to Faith Explored and See for more materials like this.

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