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SALT OF THE EARTH, LIGHT OF THE WORLD
By Paul O. Nichols
In the “sermon on the mount” Jesus, our Lord, taught some of the greatest principles and truths that have ever fallen upon the ears of fast decaying mortality. The impact was such that when He finished His teaching, the response of the hearers was, “He taught them as one having authority (Matt. 7:29).
During the personal ministry of Jesus He never traveled more than a hundred miles from His home in Nazareth where He grew up as the son of a carpenter. And yet His influence is found in books which fill libraries, pictures capturing the imagination of artists hang on walls of private homes, museums and other public locations around the world. The truths of His sermon have influenced the thinking and conduct of peasants, common men in society, and people of wealth and Influence. He taught His lessons in word and in deed. Luke wrote about “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). His influence was such because He “practiced what He preached’. He could honestly declare to His followers, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). But He also said to His followers, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). His admonition was, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16). He was talking about their influence for good, which would glorify God their Creator.
Jesus also taught His disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). Salt has the ability to influence the taste of food, which otherwise might be unpalatable. Further more, it has the power to preserve food. Meat which is salt cured will last for prolonged periods of time without refrigeration.
When our Lord used the expressions, “Ye are the salt of the earth” and “Ye are the light of the world”, He was impressing His followers with the importance of the influence of His teaching in their lives. They in turn would influence others for good.
One thing that all Christians should understand is that their influence as followers of Christ is the greatest thing they have to offer in their service to God. And when a Christian has lost or destroyed his influence, he is no longer beneficial to the Cause of Christ. Jesus declared, “But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13). And speaking of the influence of light, He said, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matt. 6:23). The admonition to His disciples was, “Let your light so shine, before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). He did not say, “Shine your light”. There is a difference, you know, and it isn’t long before people can detect the hypocrisy.
In various ways Christians can and do have an influence on those with whom they come in contact. The choice of words we use to express ourselves, the places we go, and the way we dress reflects our thinking and our attitudes. These things influence what people think of us and what we claim to be. We are not talking about putting on a show for our contacts, but letting our light shine as Christians without having to make the verbal claim to be followers of Christ. We indicate this fact by our manner of life. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus and said, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:7, 8). Again, he wrote to Timothy, a young preacher of the Gospel, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Dirty jokes, filthy innuendos, and inappropriate euphemisms. are completely out of place in the life of a Christian. Immodest dress and many styles of the world should be avoided by the Lord’s people lest we destroy our influence for good. Remember we are to be examples of the believers.
It has been said, “We never get a second chance to make a first impression.” As a rule, the first impression is the one that is remembered the longest. We need to ponder the question, “What impression do outsiders get when they come to the services of the congregation where I attend? Some members of the church don’t seem to realize that immodesty is condemned in the scriptures, and that their appearance often reflects rebellion, and is an embarrassment to other Christians. When we have visitors come what kind of an impression do they get? Some members come in very inappropriate attire. Low cut dresses, miniskirts on girls or their mothers; and on boys and men, clothes that look as if they came out of the rag-bag; men dressed as if they came off a cattle drive or out of the hay field, or a fishing trip, and didn’t have time to change in time for worship service. Faded blue jeans with holes in them, or tee shirts with cute and inappropriate stuff written on them that represent the worldly attitude of the individual. I was present when a young man led a song before the congregation dressed in a tee shirt, and across his chest it read COORS BEER. Things like “I’d rather be golfing, fishing, or hunting” or anything else printed on the shirt of an individual waiting on the Lord’s Supper is out of order and reflects the poor judgment of the leadership who appoint such to publicly participate in the service. I have actually witnessed a number of these things. This is not the ranting of fanatic mind, but real facts to be considered.
Ignorance is no excuse for rebellion or a stubborn attitude. In 1Samuel 15:23 King Saul was told by Samuel, the prophet of God, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” When one rejects the word of the Lord because of a rebellious or stubborn attitude, he is in jeopardy of losing his “Heavenly crown” as King Saul was of losing his earthly crown.
Some Christians are an embarrassment to a congregation because of the way they dress which might suggest a lack of sincerity. Instead of being an asset, they are a hindrance and the congregation would be better off without them. We live in a time when young and old can afford to buy all kinds of gadgets and expensive play things, but can’t seem to buy a decent pair of slacks or shirt or a modest and decent dress which is appropriate for a worship service to the Lord. Such garments are not near as expensive as an mp3 or some cell telephones. And they can afford an expensive lap top computer with all the latest software. A lot of this reflects our priorities. And getting our priorities right comes through teaching. Members who dress in a way that is degrading or detrimental to the influence of the church should not be up before a congregation taking any public part until they learn to do better.
When God set up the tabernacle service of the children of Israel, He gave regulations to His people how it was to be set up and the way the service of the priests was to be conducted. He even gave the source of the fire to be used to burn the sacrifice. He was strict enough that the walls of the enclosure for the tabernacle He regulated. The furniture and where each piece was to be setup was to be done according to God’s plan. Moses was told by the Lord to “make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5). Included in the instructions to Moses was the command for the priests to dress appropriately for their roll in the service they were to perform. The penalty for disobedience was death.
If we entertain the notion that the way we dress makes no difference to the Lord, we are sadly mistaken. Remember we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
[We appreciate this article being called to attention by brother Carl Elliott].
AFTER YOU VOTED
By Robert Wayne Kornegay
After hearing all the arguments as to why we should not vote and not entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life (2 Tim. 2:4), there were still Christians who thought that it was their duty and responsibility to go out and vote anyway.
Now that the election is over, there is one thing we can be assured of. God has put into office who He has chosen. (Rom.13:1), “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
When Christians vote their number one reason to vote they say, is because God is using them to make his choice, or that they want to use their judgment to put the best candidate into office. They seem to forget (Rom.13:2), “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
If their argument to vote is true the question has to be asked: Why didn’t God use every Christian’s vote the same way? If the candidate lost that you voted for, did God give you the wrong signal? Did God give you bad judgment or bad wisdom? Did He give bad wisdom that led you to vote for the wrong candidate.
If the candidate you voted for won, are you now gloating that God gave you better judgment and better wisdom than He gave the ones who lost? It does not seem logical to me for God to use half of his children voting for one candidate and the other half voting for his opponent. Wouldn’t they just cancel each other out? Herein lies a big problem. Our wisdom and judgment is not to be compared with the wisdom of God. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Brethren, we do not have the wisdom to chose the candidate that God wants to select. Throughout time God gave Israel good Kings and bad Kings. The good Kings were a blessing because the children of Israel were obeying God and the bad Kings were a blessing also because they were given to make them realize that they had forgotten God and their need to repent.
Why do Christians who vote today find it so difficult to understand this concept? If God chose a bad King for their own good, why wouldn’t God do the same for us today? No logical thinker could ever believe that God would use half of his people to chose one candidate and the other half to chose the opposing candidate.
Besides, there were those of us who were praying that God would give us what we need for America not what we thought was best for America. We were praying that God would use his judgment to give us what we need to better accomplish our work for the church and our work for spreading the Gospel. We put aside our opinions on taxes, foreign policy, and health care and prayed for the spiritual concerns of America. Thank God that He knows more of what we need than we know what to ask for.
Putting aside the arguments about why the Christian should not vote, if you voted for the “loser”, how do you feel knowing that you voted against God’s will. If you voted for the “loser” you voted for the candidate that God did not want to win. Remember His candidate won.
[Please consider these thoughts -R.N.]
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