Pastor Matt Osborn
In our Sunday morning class for the teen guys, we have been going through a book entitled Be a Man. We have been looking at godly characteristics of being men following after God, and this week's lesson was on leadership. It is a very important thing for a man to be leading in his future home and knowing what that looks like, but these characteristics were just as good for the individual Christian as well.
Matthew 5: 13-16
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
John Maxwell defines leadership as “Influence, nothing more, nothing less.” As a Christian, we are designed to make a difference through influence. In Matthew 5 here, Jesus is speaking, and He uses three illustrations to give us a glimpse into our influence in this world.
Salt was given for two main purposes: flavoring and preserving. (Although living in Pennsylvania, it definitely has a third use of destruction of cars, roads, and more.) However, we know fairly well about the usage of flavoring as it sits on our countertops and tables at restaurants, but less well known is its ability to preserve. Because of our fridges and freezers today, we do not use this function of salt as often, but years ago salt would be rubbed on meat in order to make it last for a longer period. In small terms, we are called to add to (flavor) and make last (preserve) where we are. This would be to help influence with positivity. We, as Christians, should be working to be a positive influence in all areas of life: home, work, sports teams, neighborhoods, and many others.
A big factor, though, in the effects of salt in its ability to flavor and preserve is its ability to remain purely salt. When used as a preservative, especially if the salt was contaminated, the salt did not do the function that was intended. Matthew records this with the phrase “… if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing…” We see that it is our job to influence positively but also be remaining pure to the things of God.
A CITY ON A HILL
Cities used to be built around a castle for fortification. Besides the stone walls, many times they were built on a hill for protection as well. They were built high so threats may be seen afar off and made the attackers charge uphill to make the battle difficult. This was done in order to protect the people, like a leader protects the influences around them. These castles were built to withstand the attacks thrown at them and give their people a fighting chance from the inside. We are in need of protection and providing protection for anything around us on a regular basis. Satan and this world do not have the best intents for us as Christians. The promotion is in direct opposition to Jesus’ teaching. However, it looks good to the eye, does it not? It looks like a good time, and it looks like it isn't very harmful at all. This is especially a difficult place for the younger generation to their parents or to the adults around them. We must protect.
The city on the hill was not just a place of protection but also a position of hope. The castle was not built for everything to be done inside of the walls. It was a place for the people to realize they had hope if hard times came. It was to be a symbol that they had a fortress to go to and a place of comfort in hard times as well. When hard times come, people are looking for people of character around them to help and give them hope. It is amazing the influence that we can have as Christians by remaining faithful and being a light for others. Because in those moments of hardships and greatest time of need, that is when people go to the person they have been observing from a distance and noticing something different about us. They know deep inside that there is hope with the Christian because they have seen it inside of us. They do not quite understand why, but they know they need that true hope that only God can give.
Light is the third illustration that Jesus gives in this particular passage. We are reminded of the fact that we live in a dark world, but that we are the light that can give hope, protection, preservation, and flavor to this world. Light cuts through the darkness to provide security, comfort, and much more to the people around light. This is great news but also a big burden for us to hold our lights high for people to see. We sing the children's song “This Little Light of Mine,” and the words of 'I’m going to let it shine,' but the light is hard to hold against the darkness and all of the darts of the wicked that are hurled at us in order to turn out our influence. But it is then a good thing that we know the source of all light in Christ. John 8: 12 says, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” We need to stay charged so to speak by the true light of life. We need to stay close to God and He will stay close to us. There is so much thrown at us in this world especially as it gets closer and closer to the end of times. We must remain close to the source of true strength and power for our lives. We cannot do this on our own, but God says He is always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.
We all should want to have influence in the areas around us as we live. We are wired to want to have a positive influence in others and protection and hope. But our influence can only go so far if we do not stay close to the source of light for all and remain pure.