Summary: Lesson 10
In the previous verses the Lord presented the principles and qualities that make a Christian distinctive. Beginning with verse 13 He goes on to give a striking picture of what it really means to behave as a Christian. In describing the Christian as the salt of the earth, Jesus provides a powerful illustration of the impact and impression we are to be making on the society in which we live.
The size of our influence is not the focus in this verse, but rather the strength of it.
I. A DIVINE OPPORTUNITY
We must keep in mind as we approach this verse that this is not a call for volunteers. Jesus is telling those of His day, as well as those of us today, that as believers we ARE salt whether we want to be or not. It is not a matter of whether or not we are influencing others, but it is a matter of how we are influencing them.
As salt, we have an awesome opportunity to make an eternal difference in the lives of those around us.
A. Salt is Visible
1. Notice that as Christians we are the salt of the earth. Our ministry is to a lost and dying world. We are to win lost souls and establish them in the faith.
2. The only way we can accomplish our God-given mission is to be a visible part of our society. We are not to hide ourselves within the confines of the four walls of the church building, totally isolated from the rest of the world.
3. We must remember - NO CONTACT, NO IMPACT!
B. Salt is Valuable
1. In today’s society, we tend to miss the impact of what Jesus was saying in this verse. However, those in ancient societies understood the value of salt far better than we. The Romans believed, for instance, that there was nothing as valuable as salt, except for the sun. Many Roman soldiers received their pay in salt. Some have said that it was from this practice that the phrase "not worth his salt" originated.
2. Those listening to Jesus may not have understood all of what He was saying, but they knew that to be called "the salt of the earth" was to be something very special and valuable.
3. Jesus has chosen us (John 15:16), as believers, to do His work here on earth. We are of great value to Him. But not only are we of value to the Lord, but we are also of great value to the world, although they may not realize it or acknowledge it.
C. Salt is Vital
1. Among its many other uses, salt is essential to the health of both humans and animals. In ancient days it was a vital part of the economy in terms of a source of revenue.
2. Our existence as believers and our influence as "the salt of the earth" is vital to the preservation of our society. Right now it is the existence of believers in the world that is staying the awful punishment of a holy and righteous God.
II. A DEFINITE RESPONSIBILITY
A. Be Pure
1. Its color being white, salt symbolizes purity.
1. To the people of Jesus’ day salt was a preservative vital to their way of life. The only way fishermen could get their product to the market in good condition was to salt it and pack it between layers of salt. The salt kept the fish fresh and edible.
2. "Ye are the salt of the earth" implies that there is a rottenness in the earth. It implies a tendency to pollution and to becoming foul and offensive. The world’s tendency is to evil. It’s like meat which has a tendency to putrefy and become polluted. Ever since the fall of man in the garden, the world has become more and more corrupt. It is the purpose of believers to be a preserving influence to retard the moral and spiritual decay in the world.
3. The most effective way of halting the corruption in society is by bringing individuals in society to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
C. Be Pungent
1. If something is said to be pungent it means that it has a stinging or biting quality causing an irritating sensation.
2. In our own unique way, as believers we are to be somewhat irritating to the world. Just as salt in a wound stings, believers are to prick the conscience of the world and be an irritant to ungodly behavior.