"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 under
foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot
be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a
bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in
the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 5:13-16).
Ending the beatitudes with a warning of the possible persecution for one’s
faith, Christ shows how dear to Him and how precious for the world true
Christians are with the following words: "Ye are the salt of the earth ...
Ye are the light of the world." For in ancient times salt was very
expensive, and was even used instead of money. As there was no refrigeration then,
salt was also used to preserve food from spoilage. Christians, like salt, keep
society from moral decay. They are its start to improving spiritual health.
As for the "light of the world," the word "light," in
its most primary meaning, refers to Jesus Christ, Who enlightens every person
coming into the world. But believers, inasmuch as they reflect His perfection,
can also be called light to a certain extent, or rays of the Sun. This does not
mean that they should put their deeds on display. (The doing of good deeds
"in secret" will be discussed in the next part of the Sermon on the
Mount). The given passage illustrates the fact that their virtuous life — like
a candle burning on a candlestick, or a city set on a hill — cannot be hidden,
but exerts a good influence on their surrounding society. Truly, the good
example of Christians assisted the spread of Christianity and the elimination
of crude, barbaric customs.
People always appreciate a person who knows and loves his work. No matter
what the profession, if he handles it well and works honestly, he is needed by
society and deserves respect. In a similar fashion, everyone expects a Christian
way of life from a Christian. They want to see in him an example of
non-hypocritical faith, honesty, a spiritual attitude and love. On the other
hand, there is nothing sadder than seeing a Christian who lives only for
worldly, mortal interests. The Lord compared such a person to salt which had
lost its savor. This salt is no longer good for anything, but to be cast out
and trodden upon by people.
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