Daily Reading & Meditation

Tuesday (June 10): "The salt of the earth and light of the world"

Scripture:  Matthew 5:13-16

13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything  except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Meditation: Jesus used ordinary images, such as salt and light, to convey extraordinary truths that transform our minds, hearts, and lives. What does salt and light have to teach us about God and the transforming power of his kingdom? Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. People traded with it, like we trade with valuable goods, such as gold and stock. Salt also served a very useful purpose, especially in warmer climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave rich flavor to food, it also preserved food from going bad and being spoiled.

Jesus used the image of salt to describe the transforming effect of God's work in our lives - and how the Holy Spirit wants to work through us to bring the power and blessing of God's kingdom to others. As salt purifies, preserves, and produces rich flavor for our daily food, we, too, as disciples of Jesus, are "salt" for the world of human society. The Lord wants to work in and through us to purify, preserve, and spread the rich flavor of God's kingdom everywhere - his "kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

Don't lose your saltiness
What did Jesus mean by the expression "if salt has lost its taste... it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot" (Matthew 5:13)? Salt in the ancient world was often put into ovens to intensify the heat. When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the ground where it would easily get stepped on and swept away (Matthew 5:13). How can we lose our "saltiness"? When we allow the world, sin, and Satan to corrupt us. The Lord wants us to preserve our "saltiness" - through virtuous living and rejection of sin - not only for our own sake but also for the sake of others. Paul the Apostle reminds us that we are called to be "the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ). Do you allow the fragrance of Christ's love, truth, and holiness to permeate every area of your life, your thoughts, words, actions, and relationships?

Light that shines for all to see
Jesus used the image of light and a lamp to further his illustration of God's transforming work in and through us. Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling. The Jews also understood "light" as symbol or expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. In his light we see light ( Psalm 36:9). His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God's grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace.

Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God's kingdom. Our mission is to be light-bearers of Jesus Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

There is great freedom and joy for those who live in the light of God's truth and goodness. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God's light?

"Lord Jesus, you guide me by the light of your saving truth. Fill my heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your will for my life. May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed".

Psalm 98:1-6
1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!  His right hand and his holy arm  have gotten him victory.
2 The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The Light of Truth, by Chromatius (died 406 AD)

The Lord has already called his disciples the "salt of the earth" because they seasoned with divine wisdom the hearts of the human race which had been made tasteless by the devil. Now he also calls them the "light of the world." For, illumined by his very own self who is the true and eternal light, they too become light within the darkness. For since he himself is the sun of righteousness, he rightly also calls his disciples "light of the world." Through them, as if through shining rays, he poured the light of his knowledge on the entire world. For by showing the light of truth, the Lord's disciples made the darkness of error flee from people's hearts. (excerpt from TRACTATE ON MATTHEW 19.1.1-2)

[Note: Chromatius was an early Christian scholar and bishop of Aquileia, Italy. He was a close friend of John Chrysostom and Jerome. He died in 406 AD. Jerome describead him as a "most learned and most holy man."]


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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