A Simple Plan for Making A Big Difference
Matthew 5 contains two incredible metaphors that give us a SIMPLE PLAN for making a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Last week we looked at the Beatitudes. Jesus opened the SOTM with eight principles that mark the lives of the people who choose to live life in "the kingdom of God" (See Matthew 4:17; 5:3-12). Right on the heels of these eight, radical, upside-down statements, Jesus basically says, "If you live the ‘blessed life’ I just described, your life is going to have an INFLUENCE and make an IMPACT.”
The first metaphor is described in Matthew 5:13.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.” —Matthew 5:13 NLT
Here's the same passage in The Message:
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” —Matthew 5:13 MSG
We tend to love programs, systems, structures and complicated, often elaborate plans. But in Matthew 5:3-16, it’s almost like Jesus is saying, “My biggest priority for your life isn't in you doing all kinds of right things. I’m locked in on you being the right kind of person. Because when you become the right kind of person, you will do the right kind of things. In fact, you won’t be able to help it.”
In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus gives us a glimpse of the nature of a life lived in the "kingdom of God" — a life lived in the "range of God's effective will, where what God wants done gets done" — and — a life lived "in the presence of God, and under the rule, reign and power of God."
Here's the big idea I hope you discover as you read these four verses:
The Big Idea: "I was made to make a difference. A powerful and persuasive life that stays connected to people always has an influence and makes an impact."
Let's start with the last part of the "Big Idea" and work forward: 1. You were meant to have an INFLUENCE and make an IMPACT.
Jesus said, “You are salt.”
Why would Jesus compare us to salt?
There were at least eleven different uses for salt in the ancient world. In fact, salt had so many uses that it was highly valued.
It was so valuable that the Romans sometimes paid their soldiers with salt. The word “salary” was actually derived from the word, “salt.” Historically, salt was used as a method of trade, currency and commerce.
If you've ever heard the expression, "He's not worth his salt," this is where it came from. When a soldier was negligent in performing his duties, his commanding officer would say, "He's not worth his salt." In other words, "He hasn't done his job and shouldn't be paid."
Today, when we talk about somebody who embodies a life of beauty, grace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and generosity, we’ll sometimes say stuff like this: “She’s the salt of the earth…”
When Jesus called us "salt," He didn't have Morton’s Table Salt in mind that you can purchase at Target for $0.89 cents. At the very least, Jesus was saying, “You are VALUABLE. You have WORTH. Your life has MEANING and PURPOSE. You have a MISSION in this world.”
Here are just four thoughts about salt:
Salt creates THIRST.
That’s why bars serve salty pretzels and peanuts free of charge. They’re not being generous. They want people to drink more.
I recently read a story about a young salesman was disappointed about losing a big sale. He was venting to his senior sales-manager about losing the sale and said, “Well, I guess it just proves you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
The wise, senior sales manager looked back at this young salesman and said, “If you want to be a great salesman, you need to learn this principle: Your job isn’t to make him drink. Your job is to MAKE HIM THIRSTY.”
This is part of what it means to be "salt." When we begin to live the kind of life Jesus described in the Beatitudes... When we’re in tune and in step with the Holy Spirit, allowing the fruit of the Spirit to shape and form the quality of our lives... That kind of life is beautiful and compelling. It actually creates SPIRITUAL THIRST in the people around us.
Here's a question I've been asking myself: Are you making people thirsty?
When we rub shoulders with people… when we spend time with people — on the job, at work, in our homes, with our roommates, family and friends — do people walk away thirsty for more of Jesus?
Recently, when I was meditating on this verse it occurred to me that we almost always think about this verse in the context of ministry, outreach, evangelism or some kind of ministry activity. That's not bad, but I think Jesus had more in mind than some seasonal evangelistic campaign. He was thinking about daily life! Salt was and is a household item. It was and is something people interacted with daily.
With that in mind, being "salt" is about the way we live in our home. It’s about the way we do our jobs. It’s about how we interact with our friends at school. It’s about how we love our spouse and kids.
So, here's the question again: Are you making people thirsty?
Salt adds FLAVOR and enhances the TASTE OF FOOD.
When we eat anything that tastes a little bland, we instinctively read for salt to enhance its flavor. That’s one of the things salt does. It makes salty stuff taste better and it even makes sweet stuff taste better. If you don't believe me, try Talenti Sea Salt Caramel ice cream and you will become a believer!
Titus 2:10 says that our character and the way we lives our lives should “…make the teaching of God our Savior ATTRACTIVE in every way.” (Cf. 1 Peter 3:3-4)
Wow! You may want to read that again!
In other words, when we live out our faith with the beauty described in the Beatitudes... When our lives are formed by things like humility, authenticity, integrity and peace... When we live our lives in vital relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we make the gospel ATTRACTIVE! We enhance its flavor!
One of the interesting things about salt is that when we put it on our popcorn, watermelon, french-fries, or in sea-salt caramel ice cream, no one ever says, “That’s great salt!” They say, “That’s great popcorn, watermelon, fries or ice cream.”
The same thing is true with our lives. When we’re getting life right, our lives won’t make “US” look good, they’ll make JESUS look good! They’ll make the gospel compelling and attractive!
Salt PURIFIES and PRESERVES.
We refrigerate our food to preserve it. But in the first century, they didn’t have that option. So, salt was rubbed on meat and fish to prevent them from spoiling.
Salt prevented decay. It also purified. Salt was used as an antiseptic to kill germs.
The application is powerful! When we're really in tune with Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, whenever we see infection, decay or deterioration; instead of running away from it, we will run to it! Because we’ve experienced GRACE, we know the power of grace and the gospel to TRANSFORM and REDEEM. We know that when God's grace touches dead things, they come back to life! When God's graces touches broken, decaying or deteriorating things, they experience restoration and renovation!
When Jesus said, “You are salt!” He was saying, “You are agents of redemption, renovation and preservation. You are an agent of reconciliation.”
Salt is an agent of HEALING.
Do you realize that today people from around the world actually flock to the Dead Sea in the Middle East seeking relief from all kinds of physical ailments like chronic skin, respiratory and joint conditions?
There are several minerals in the Dead Sea, but one of the main ingredients and healing properties in the Dead Sea is salt. It's an agent of HEALING.
I believe one of the things Jesus was saying when he said, “You are the salt of the earth…” was that He wants us to be agents of His healing grace. He wants to use us to bring EMOTIONAL, RELATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL HEALING to the lives of the people He places in our lives.
We called last Sunday a "Day of Healing" at a2 Church. Sunday night was a special, "Night of Healing." I loved both! God used all of our special guests in amazing ways! We will have them back! But I really believe healing isn’t something that’s supposed to be reserved or relegated to a designated day or night of the month! EVERY DAY can be a “Day of Healing” and EVERY NIGHT can be a “Night of Healing.”
I love the commission Jesus gave His followers in Matthew 10:8. It reads like this in The Message.
Jesus: Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. —Matthew 10:8 MSG
If you're a follower of Jesus, this is part of His calling and commission upon your life!
Can you imagine what would happen if we began to take the healing power of the finished work of Jesus into every sphere and aspect of our lives? Can you imagine what would happen if we realized that God hasn't only commissioned and authorized a select few to be His agent, but that He has commissioned and authorized me and you?
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth."
It's time to live like it!
Stay salty! #StaySalty