Have you ever had food that was bland, but with a little salt became much better? Have you ever been in a dark room and realized how much light even a small candle flame could produce? Have you ever been able to tell a lot about a person’s heart by their fruits? This week I want to discuss how we, as Christians, should be: the salt to the earth, the light of the world, and good trees which bear good fruit.
Just as salt can make a bitter meal taste better, so we are to be the seasoning to the world. Jesus talks about this in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)
Christ reminds us that as salt, we must not lose our flavor. We are supposed to be the good in this world. When everything seems to be going wrong, Christians are called to stand out and make the bitterness of the world taste just a little bit better.
Similarly, we are called to be the light of the world. Read the next few verses in Matthew 5:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Here, Christ gives a parallel example to salt: light. As Christians, we must strive to provide light in this dark world. What good is a light that is hidden under a basket? We should not hide our faith from the world; rather, we should let our light shine. We want others to see the Lord through us, so our faith needs to be seen. Another passage that addresses the Christian’s light is this:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’ ” (Ephesians 5:8-14)
Not only are we to let our light shine to brighten the world, we must keep ourselves from the works of darkness. Now that we walk in the light of the Lord, we are to have no part in the deeds of darkness. We are to be the light to the world, but Christ gives us the light. In a way, we are to reflect God’s light onto the world. The fact is that we must set ourselves as a city on a hill, giving light to all those lost in the darkness.
An important question then arises. How are we to know that we are being like salt to the earth and light to the world? Jesus tells us later in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
“By their fruits you will know them.” Here, Jesus is talking about false prophets specifically, but the same statement is true for Christians as well. If we are displaying the fruits of the Spirit, then we can know that we are being the salt and light to the world. Christ tells us that we will be able to discern the false prophets by their fruits, or, their works. Paul tells us more about these “works of the flesh” in Galatians:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-20)
Upon closer examination, it is likely that some of these works became evident, thus exposing an individual for what they were: a false prophet. Let us now see this passage from Galatians in its context:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16-26)
Now we see how Paul ties all of this together. If we keep in step with the Spirit, we will show the fruits of the Spirit. If we fulfill the lusts of the flesh, we will bear such fruits. We seem to forget that these “fruits” grow out of our hearts. They come from within us. We often spend too much time trying to have “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” without first working on our heart. A heart that does not truly desire to give up fleshly lusts and walk in the Spirit will not be able to bear the fruits of the Spirit. Have you ever seen an apple sprout straight out of the soil? Of course not! Fruit does not just grow out of the ground. The tree grows first, then the fruit grows out from the tree. In the same way, let us walk in the Spirit, and we will begin to find ourselves bearing the fruits of the Spirit.
The world can be a bitter place. We should strive to make it better by being the salt to the earth. Many people in this life are walking in darkness. May we always be lights to lead others to Christ. There are many people who try to disguise themselves as good, but the fruits that they bear show otherwise. Let us walk in the Spirit as a “good tree” so that we may bear the fruits of the Spirit. Take time this week to think about how you can be salt, light, and bear good fruits.