The Light of the World

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Light is good because we can see things more clearly than when we’re in the dark. Our field of view is larger and more complete.

Darkness hides the things you may not want to see but it certainly focuses your attention more on just putting one foot in front of the other. Darkness can also be full of surprises because you don’t see them until it’s too late.

Think of a two-lane driving scenario. In the dark, you have a very limited field of view. You see the road and perhaps the road shoulders. When an oncoming car approaches, your field of view is temporarily more limited because it’s blinding. As dawn approaches, however, you get to see the countryside all around you and cars’ headlights no longer bother you even though they may be on.

As Christians we are the light of the world. This world is full of darkness. There are traps and snares all around us even though we may be walking in the daylight. We walk among evil, power-hungry, greedy, hateful, perverted, and twisted people all day long and often don’t know it. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. We can rightly say, “there but for the grace of God go I,” but these people still exist.

Sometimes our light will be blindingly bright but more often than not, it’ll just be a small candle to light the way. The Bible tells us that others will see our good deeds, which implies we are performing these good deeds regularly. Some people just need to see that candle to light their way. They need to see that there are authentic Christians in the world, those who are living testimonies of the Glory of God.

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A Dash of Salt Please

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13

Salt is both good and bad. When Jesus spoke these words, salt was primarily used as a food preservative.

Here are just a few uses of salt: Salt preserves food, adds a touch of flavor to otherwise bland food, melts ice to help make ice cream, melts snow and ice, raises blood pressure if ingested too much, tempers boiling water, is used to flavor tea in Mongolia, and is worthless just laying on the ground waiting to be mined.

One year in Scout camp, I decided to play a prank on the diners at my assigned dining table. I unscrewed the salt shaker lid and waited. Sure enough, someone dumped the entire shaker full on salt on his turkey and gravy. I thought it was hilarious until the dining hall monitor made me eat every last bit on that plate after all the others left the table. Salt is great on turkey and mash potatoes but terrible when there is a little turkey and potatoes on top of a mound of gravy salt!

So, what is the application for us? Salt is great for its designed purposes. In fact, it’s a necessity in many instances.

It’s no good in the salt shaker or in a bag on the shelf. It needs to be sprinkled about sparingly. It needs to go into the culture to flavor and preserve it.

A little goes a long way.

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The Peacemakers

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

Verse 9 rightly follows verse 8 because you cannot have one without the other. Someone who has a pure heart and one that is free from deceit and guile probably has internal peace as well. Who then is better to negotiate peace among arguing factions than someone who is totally at peace?

We are certainly entering into an age where world peace and coming together seems to be “all the rage.” While we should applaud it, it comes with a basketful of strings. It’s certainly not the peace of God, but the absence of war and nations coming together in an unsettling way.

For the last month I’ve been saying this, but it still holds true: we are entering unchartered waters and governments are seeing just how far they can push before there is pushback from the masses. It’s difficult to gauge just what is going on because there’s a lot of conflicting news and data.

What does this all have to do with peace? Well, it seems to be peace at the price of liberty, and it’s only peaceful on their terms. There seems to be an undercurrent of tension and anxiety in the world lately.

We will certainly need the peace of God that passes understanding to get through this because it will get much worse before it gets better, I’m afraid.

I hope I’m wrong about it, but one thing remains: God’s in control of it all.

Still and Always.

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The Pure in Heart

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8

God is much more concerned about what’s going on inside our hearts and minds than out outward circumstances. What we think about during the day has an effect on our beliefs and values.

King David talked about this:

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:2-3

A pure heart is truthful and free of deception. Deceit creeps up on us but we are to guard against it.

Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Again, it goes back to what we think about throughout the day.

What’s on your mind throughout the day? What do you think about in your down times, when you’re finished with work and just want to veg?

Are you actively engaging in a Bible memory plan, even if it’s a verse a week? You’d be surprised at what the little bits of Scripture you have stored within you can carry you through the day.

A great place to start is this verse. Say it a few times out loud, write it down three times, and say it aloud again, and it’s probably committed to memory!

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Have Mercy

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

Once again we see a character trait that is not appreciated in American culture.

How we become and remain merciful in a callous, merciless society is where the rub is. In fact, much like meekness, displaying mercy can be construed as a sign of weakness.

Can you be taken advantage of by being merciful? Absolutely.

Can we be too merciful? Probably, though I don’t think most of us will have that problem. If anything, we lean towards not showing enough mercy and not having compassion.

But God had mercy on us and we ought to have mercy on others.

What that looks like is different for each person in each situation.

Generally, though, we should be compassionate when it is within our power.

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