“Salt and Light,” the pastor said yesterday in the church service. “Go out into the world and be ‘salt and light’.” He was of course, referencing the bible, Matthew 5:13-16.

I’ve heard this message at least a dozen times in my lifetime, and basically the theme of the sermon is the same. It starts out by stressing the importance that salt had in the ancient world. It makes food taste good, and it is also a preservative to keep meat from spoiling. The sermon then goes on, and we hear how Roman soldiers were paid in salt instead of gold. From that, we get the word “salary” and phrases like: “that man isn’t worth his salt.”

And lose some weight too...

You might lose some weight too…

Unfortunately, telling us to go out into the world and be salt and light is about as useful as telling a fat person to lose weight. Or maybe it is like telling an unemployed person to go out and get a job. Both are utterly useless and are destined to fail. I put all these types of sayings into the category of trying to teach a pig to sing. You’re wasting your time, and you just end up annoying the pig.

I totally understand what the preacher was getting at. He wanted to get people to change and go out into the world and make a difference for Christ – to cause a change in others. Unfortunately, people don’t experience “change” like this.

Change happens internally. You can’t motivate someone to change by telling them to change. That is why the sermon was basically a waste of a golden opportunity.

What I would stress in the bible passage, is the last part of verse 16.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Here we see the “why”. The “why” tells us the reason we should be the salt and the light. This is always the part I look for whenever there is an instruction given in the bible. I want to know what the reward is for following the instructions.

It seems to me that most Christians gloss over the “rewards.” Especially preachers. And I can understand why they think this. They seem to believe that if you are looking out for a reward for doing good deeds, then it eventually leads down the slippery slope of trying to buy your way into heaven by doing enough good deeds. So they stay as far away from talking about rewards as possible. In fact, they degenerate televangelists that do talk about “wealth,” and other rewards of following God’s commandments.

In fact, I believe these Christians often turn down “rewards” from God, just to prove their spirituality; that they are not trying to buy their way into heaven (see my blog post on the Blessings Prayer).

Not me. I have made it my life’s goal to stop being stupid. If someone offers me a reward, I’m going to take it. Especially if the reward comes from God. After all, all blessings are from God, right? God always promises a reward for good behavior, and a punishment for bad behavior. You can turn down a reward, but you can’t turn down a punishment. So I’m going to accept the reward.

In fact, I’m going to look for the reward (what will it be?) in order to recognize it, just to make sure that I don’t turn it down when it arrives on my doorstep. That is why when I read a passage in the bible, I look for the “why”. The “why” tells me what the reward or the punishment might be for following the command.

With that in mind, there are two reasons that Jesus gives us for being the salt and the light:

  • That others may see your good deeds.
  • That others will then praise your Father in heaven.

“Well… that sucks!” was my first thought when I read this part of the paragraph. It doesn’t seem to have that tangible “what’s in it for me” quality that I was looking for.

You’ll have to come back and read the rest of this blog to find out what is the tangible reward for being the salt and the light in this world, and how it relates to “making money, God’s way.”

Continue on to part 2

Photo Credit

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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  • http://www.AprilBraswell.com Dating After 40 Expert

    Hi Tim,

    Indeed, we are to be flavorful for Him as His ambassadors. It’s like the Law of Reciprocity. Out of deep gratitude for receiving everlasting life, we are to represent Him. Then again He just keeps rewarding our efforts massively!

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Dating After 40 Expert

  • Austin

    Thanks.