I am a wee bit late on this post. I had been battling pneumonia for the past month. I did not realize just how immunocompromised I really was until this past month. It got so bad that 6am on Sunday morning, my husband started to look throughout the house to find me because I was not in bed. I was in the office on the couch breathing shallow, quick breaths. I felt as though I were starting to drown and as though my lungs were filling almost full with fluid. I had been on antibiotics for a couple of days by then. I finally feel like I can breath, and I am not having to rest for a bit just from walking upstairs from the basement. I no longer have to rest a bit from changing over the laundry. These small tasks no longer require a rest period before moving on to other small tasks. Now, I can make the bed, change over the laundry, and come upstairs from the basement to sweep all of the first level floors without resting for twenty minutes in between. I am so grateful to be over that, and, honestly, to have come through it. This blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma is no fun and games. Now on to the topic.
I have been going through the first book of the New Testament of the Bible utilizing, to the best of my ability, the inductive study method. Then, I write about what I have learned here in separate posts, hoping to pass this on to you. I also hope that after you read it, and if you see something that needs to be expounded upon or you want to add something, you reach out and let me know. I would love to hear about what you learn as well. Like I have said somewhere before, “It is best to learn wisdom by the experience of others (Latin proverb).”
In the 5th chapter of the book of Matthew begins with the “Beatitudes”, and we looked at that in the last post. This one is the study of verses 13 through 16. Verse 13 says, “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.”
If a seasoning has no flavor, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God. If we are too much like the world, we are worthless. Christians should not blend in with everyone else. Instead, we should affect them positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food. Salt is a seasoning and preserving chemical, but if left on the bare earth or exposed to the sun, rain, and air, it loses its savor and is worthless.
As my husband and I were discussing this passage this morning, he said he was reminded of the prodigal son teaching in Luke 15:11-32. He said that the family was used to eating one specific type of diet, and maybe the younger son wanted to experience other cultures and cuisines. (This is all his take on this because for him, making things relatable helps him to remember key lessons in the Bible. So this is not in there, but for the sake of remembering this lesson, I am sharing his thoughts – and mine of course at times – to help you as well.) So he takes what is given to him by his father, and he experiences other ways of living and eating. When he realizes that other cultures and people only revere him if he is giving out his riches. Once he has run out of things to give, they have no use for him anymore. Then he remembers his father is a generous man and he remembers the love his father gave freely. He remembers the food, and that it was good and plentiful. So he returns, and resolves to serve his father. To his surprise, his father warmly receives him and throws a giant feast to celebrate his return. He remembers his comforting food and surroundings and feels safe again. He has purpose again, and he is not being a glutton, lazy, or selfish anymore. He was humbled and shown that we are not of ourselves infinitely rich or meant to live for ourselves. We are meant to serve each other, and in doing so, we are helped by others, thereby increasing our likely hood of survival. It makes sense. So in being “salt” here, we are serving a purpose to enrich and flavor others’ lives, just as they do so for us.
I know this is taking multiple portions of the Jesus’ teachings and mooshing them together to get a fuller understanding of scripture. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do, though? I think we are to verify scripture by scripture AND understand scripture by scripture. So that is where this is going.
Then in verses 14-16, Jesus teaches us to be the light. Can you hide a city that is sitting on a hill? Its light at night can be seen for miles. If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights, showing others what Christ is like. We hide our light by being quiet when we should speak, going along with the crowd, denying our light, letting sin dim our light, not explaining our light to others, or ignoring the needs of others. Be a beacon of truth – don’t shut your light off from the rest of the world. The purpose of all good works among humankind is to glorify the heavenly Father.
Jesus taught the people through sermons, illustrations, and parables. Through His teachings, He showed the true ingredients of faith and how to guard against a fruitless and hypocritical life. Jesus’ teachings show us how to prepare for life in His eternal Kingdom by living properly right now. He lived what He taught, and we, too, must practice what we preach. He affected many, and He walked what he talked. We, too, must follow His example since we are called “Christians” which is “Christ-like”.
This week’s teaching has taught me to be humble, but not deny Christ by being quiet so as not to be noticed and possibly argued with. If someone begins to argue about being a Christ follower or believing the Word of God to be true, that is simply creating an opening to explain to them who Christ really is. All of the legalistic jargon and stipulations that others put out there as what you have to do to earn your way into God’s family is malarkey. Christ already put in the work and effort that we, in and of ourselves, could never accomplish. In my gratitude to Father God, I accept the payment Jesus Christ paid on the cross, and I gladly accept the Holy Spirit to guide me in what God purposed for me to do. Also in my gratitude to God, I want to please Him in the things that I say and do (and even think). So I try to live out what Jesus taught me, not as a form of earning, but as a form of worship and thanksgiving. There is a big difference that I find myself walking a thin line in between the two poles: one being “earning my way” and the other being “doing nothing but prostrating myself before God in a sacred space and praying”. “Faith without works is dead,” right? However, we are saved by faith, and “not by works”. So, being cognizant of these two things, I am “fighting the good fight of faith” by recognizing that my works do nothing to earn anything, but they do please God, and so therefore, I want to do these works knowing that I am already set free of debt and obligation to death. I am free to live.
And with that, I gotta go fill up my cup…