Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In the Peanuts cartoon, Peppermint Patty was talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what Charlie. On my first day at school, I got sent to the Principal’s office. It’s your fault you know”.
“My fault,” asked Charlie, “how could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?” And she says, “You’re my friend, aren’t you Charlie? You should have been a better influence on me”. Peppermint Patty was trying to pass the buck that day, but she was right. We should be a good influence on our friends. Each of us does have an influence on others—for better or worse.
Many people ask the question, What can I do to make this world a better place? We think we have to do something really big and impressive to make the world a better place, but that’s not the case. Mother Teresa of Calcutta had a different view. In her life, she helped one person at a time. When a reporter asked her how individuals could help make the world a better place, she said, “Go home and love your families”.
What Can People See When They Watch Us?
A very simple answer, but true. If we can influence those closest to us in our home, then we are doing something positive and helpful. As Christians, people are watching us all the time to wait to see if we do act the way we speak or profess. Like the little boy looking at a minister making a wooden trellis to support a vine in the churchyard. After he’d finished, he asked the boy what he wanted. “I’m just standing here waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer”.
I wonder what Jesus meant when he said:
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lamp stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Does your life make a difference? What kind of difference do you make? Jesus makes it clear that we are to make a difference. Just as salt makes a difference. Many ancient societies understood the value of salt better than we do today. Many Roman soldiers received their pay in salt, and it was very valuable. So when Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth” people understood it was something very special and valuable.
What did Jesus mean? I think he meant that Christians, like salt, are to be a preserving influence in society. The issue was the saltiness of the salt. If it loses its saltiness, it may as well be thrown out. The presence of Christians in the world makes all the difference.
Are We Letting the Light Shine Through?
Then he also said, “You are the light of the world”. While salt is a hidden but powerful influence, light is a visible and revealing influence. We are called to make a visible impact on the world around us. Our faith in God is to be open and seen by others, not hidden away. Our light should shine, not to boast or reveal how good we are, but to bring glory to God our Heavenly Father.
We are to influence others to turn to him. When we give our lives to Jesus, something very powerful has happened. He has saved us, forgiven us of our sins, changed our hearts, given us a new hope, put his love in our hearts, given us joy, and set our feet on the rock that cannot be shaken.
A nine-year-old boy went with his parents to Europe one summer. They visited some old cathedrals of the past. The little boy looked at the massive stained glass portraits of the disciples and other saints. He was impressed by the beautiful stained-glass windows. When he got home, his Sunday School teacher asked what he liked most about the churches he visited. He thought for a moment and said, “I loved how huge God must be”. Then he was asked to define what a saint is. He said, “A saint is a person the light shines through,” thinking of all the windows he had seen. How true that is.
It’s important to ask, Does my life make a difference? It should. Jesus said we are to be salt and light.
J.David Hoke, New Horizons Community Church, Voorhees, NJ, USA