What Did Jesus Mean by Living as Salt and Light?

by Jennifer Slattery

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13 NASB

How salty are you? When people encounter you, do they walk away intrigued? Enticed to experience the life you have? Or do they sputter and spit, thinking, “Man, I do not want more of that?”

My family will be the first to tell you: I stink at cooking. I’ll never entice anyone with a home-cooked meal. I do hope, however, that you’ll join us for relational reasons. That you’ll discover that we’re loving people of integrity and be drawn to that. To us, and hopefully, the God who empowers us.

Love. Grace. Integrity. That’s a powerful combination, able to dispel the false and often negative associations our culture attaches to Christianity. When we live what we claim to believe, consistently yielding to the Holy Spirit within, many times we find our words aren’t all that necessary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share truth. As a faith-based writer and speaker, I spend a good deal of time doing that, after all. What I am saying is that our day-to-day actions should speak loudest and clearest. And if they don’t? Then we’ve probably become one of two things: A bland Christian who has allowed their flavor to leach out by our culture or sin. Or we have become an angry and hostile religious person who puckers everyone’s mouths, even those who agree with our truth claims.

Living with radiance and flavor, however, means doing all we can to model Christ: how we speak, how we serve, how we love, how we give, and how we react. We mustn’t separate Christ’s call to live as the salt of the earth and light of the world from the context in which He spoke this.

He began by telling us all the seemingly contradictory ways we’d be blessed.

  • Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those destitute on their own and recognizing their constant need for Christ. (Matthew 5:3)
  • Blessed are those who mourn, because it’s often during the hard times that we most experience our Savior. (Matthew 5:4)
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—who long to know and please God. (Matthew 5:5)
  • Blessed are the meek, who demonstrate strength under control. In other words, who are able to speak truth with love, gentleness, and grace and don’t lose their cool in Facebook arguments or endless political debates. (Matthew 5:6)
  • Blessed are those who seek justice, absolutely, but are most known for their mercy. (Matthew 5:7)    
  • Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—free from pride, selfish ambition, bitterness and sin. (Matthew 5:8)
  • Blessed are the peacemakers—those who actively join God’s mission to bring relational, emotional, and spiritual health to our broken world. (Matthew 5:9)
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted, insulted, mocked, and disdained, for the sake of Christ, because our love often shines brightest in the face of hatred. (Matthew 5:10-12)

After explaining what a Christ-honoring life looks like, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-15 NIV.) So shine brightly, that [others] may see…your arguments and hear all the verses you’ve memorized? No. “That they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).

In short, they will know us by our love, one displayed with equal parts of truth and grace. A life characterized by both truly does have the power to change the world.

You and I have the power to change the world, one heart at a time. Jesus showed and told us precisely how. Will we follow His example? 

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Jennifer Slattery
Faith Over Fear - Christian Podcast

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites. In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: What character quality do you thing will best show Jesus to the world?