Salt & Light

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus used two simple images to speak about His people, the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Salt of the Earth

The Lord declared,

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt
loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned?
It is then good for nothing but to be thrown
out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:1)

This is a rich similitude. To fully appreciate the point of Jesus’ short salt parable, we must consider the value and uses of salt. The most basic use of salt, and that which Jesus had in mind here is the seasoning flavour it provides for food. I can’t think of a restaurant that does not have salt on the table. Most homes have salt, either on the table or in the cupboard. Who among us has not shook some salt on a steak, some veggies, into our favourite recipe, etc.? Salt is the universally popular seasoning. Even the Lord likes salt, for the Law of Moses commanded the use of salt on their offerings (Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19).

If you are a Christian, you are the salt of the earth. You ought to bring flavour to a world that desperately needs it. The world is not bland, like some foods without salt. The word has a sour, even a rotten taste to it. Our words and actions should affect the world around us for good. Jesus expressed concern—what if the salt has lost its flavour? What if the children of God—you and I—are not what we ought to be? If salt did not make our food more palatable, we wouldn’t use it any longer. Maundrell speaks of salt exposed to the elements as having lost its savour (Clarke’s, Barnes). As you and I are exposed to the harsh elements of a spiritual world gone after the way of the devil, we need to be careful that we don’t become useless to the Lord.


The Lord adds to this a second thought, that we are the light of the world. He said the same thing of Himself (John 8:12; 9:5). The apostle Paul said that we should be imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). As He was a light shining in a dark world (John 1:4-5; 3:19), we must be.

Two illustrations are used to emphasize the need for a light to be visible. A city in the valley can be hard to see, but if it is on a hill, it is noticeable. Similarly, when you light a lamp, you don’t hide it, but set it in an optimal location to supply light throughout the house. Friends, we are a city which is to be set on a hill—we are the heavenly Jerusalem, set upon Mount Zion. The Lord just finished tell us that we are the light of the world. He is the one who has illuminated us (John 1:9; Hebrews 10:32). He expects that we shine in the proverbial house of the world, so that the light of the gospel may be shown throughout the house. This is evident by His charge:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The idea is not for us to look good before men for our own benefit, but that we might bring glory to God as men consider our words and works. We are to conduct ourselves in a humble manner, exhibiting the character of God before the world.

The desired result is that people in the world might glorify the Father; that is, might be obedient to the gospel, turning from sin and death to righteousness and life.

I’ve heard these salt lamps are good for your health. That might be so, I don’t know. But what I do know is this—God’s people need to be “salt lamps” in order to be what the Lord desires of us. If we do so, it will be good for our own health (especially spiritual), and that of folks around us (1 Timothy 4:16).

Will you take up the call of God to flavour the world with your obedience to the will of God? Are you willing to be a city in plain view of the world? May we shine brightly for the Lord and may many turn to Him.

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