How can we be salt and light in our world, so that instead of being “trodden under foot” or “hidden under a bushel” (vv. 13, 15), we can resist evil and do good, and moving unbelievers to glorify God as our Father in heaven? To answer that question, let’s listen to the wisdom of the English Puritans.
Practical Applications for Today
What have we learned about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as Christians and as Christ’s church on earth? Here are four concluding lessons:
- Know what your position is, what your resources are, and where your strength lies. You must be in Christ by faith, and under Him as Lord. The gospel must be “the power of God unto salvation” in your hearts and lives, as Christ works in you by His Word and Holy Spirit. In fact, the Word of God must be your rule of faith and life. And You must have grace to be gracious, and light to be light. Remember that your strength lies in God! “The God of Israel is He that giveth strength unto his people” (Ps. 68:35). Draw strength from Him by the continuous exercise of faith laboring in prayer: “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your hearts before him” (Ps. 62:8).
- Beware, lest your salt lose its savor and the light be hidden under a bushel. Great pressures are exerted by the world to entice, cow, or coerce us into a situation of compromise with the man-centered values and ways and ends of the world. Our power to influence the world for good lies in our resolve to be faithful to our God and our Savior at all costs. We must fear God and not men. We must obey God and not men. We must be willing to be hated of all men for Christ’s sake. Nor can we bring the light of God’s Word to bear on the life of the world if we retreat into a safe place of our own where we hide from the world and preach only to ourselves. The church is not to be a monastic cloister or an underground bunker. Whether we like it or not, Christ has set His city on a hill, to be seen of all men. He bids us lift up the gospel as a candle put on a candlestick, to give light to all the world. We cannot fulfill our mission if we hide ourselves away and talk only to ourselves.
- Let your vision for Christian life and witness be as high and holy, as loving and gracious, and as wide and open-handed as the gospel itself. We cannot call men to faith in Christ if we do not walk by faith in Him. We cannot call men to repentance if we are hardhearted and impenitent. We cannot commend the grace of God to others if we are ungracious and unforgiving in our dealings with them. We cannot proclaim the love of Christ for sinners if we are unloving toward one another. We cannot expect the world to be better than we are, or have higher standards than we have set for ourselves as Christians.
- The Word preached must become the Word practiced. Your faith in Christ and love for God must be translated into visible terms. Men must see your good works. These works must be done in obedience to God’s Word, out of faith in Him; and done to His glory, out of love for Him. Those who see them will see God’s grace at work in you and say, “Blessed be the God whom these Christians serve! He is great and good, and mighty to save!” Many will be gained to Christ by your godly conversation; others will at least be put to shame by their own evil deeds. “The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth” (Ps. 107:42).
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Joel Beeke (@JoelBeeke) is president and professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and one of the pastors of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation both in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written, co-authored, and edited over 80 books.