Tasty and Attractive
The Sermon on the Mount–Matthew 5:13-16
I am drawn to tasty food–I am not a foodie, so my tastes are not refined. But Shawn Farrell and I love a slightly crunchy, but mainly chewy, cookie–the bigger the better. I can’t resist a double double with grilled onions, chocolate shake and fries from In ‘N Out. Or how about a specially designed 5 Guys burger with a bag of their fries with vinegar? A personally prepared pepperoni pizza? Oh, baby–it makes me drool, gleek and pant! Now, I can’t eat any of that on my diet, but I love tasty food–I am drawn to it, I want it.
In the same way, Christ intends His followers to be a draw–to be attractive and tasty. People should want to have what we have. They should secretly desire your life. And Christ intends for every one of you to be influential for His Gospel and His character. Today, Jesus is preaching a great sermon, and this section is about your influence. Christ will tell you today that you are already influential, no matter how you live.
You can lose, ruin or decrease your influence for Christ, or you can sharpen, purify and increase your influence for Christ. But today, the Lord will make it clear–if you desire it, you can and will influence others for His glory. Let me ask–how many desire it? And just to move you in the right direction, as the Lord wraps up this portion of His Sermon on the Mount, He concludes with a command for you to be tasty and attractive.
Christ in and through you will cause a reaction. Sometimes it causes persecution like the Lord taught last week in verses 9 to 12. But others will find Christ through you tasty and attractive this week in verses 12 to 16. But for you to be influential, there are several things that must happen in your heart. You can be massively influential for Christ, but you must examine your heart. The Lord requires several heart adjustments–are you ready, are you willing, do you really want to be influential for Christ? Then there are five truths that must be true.
1) You must live fully AWARE of why you are here on Earth–to glorify, serve and share
2) EMBRACE Christ’s mission for you on Earth–demonstrate His character, share His Gospel
3) Pursue living out the beatitudes in everyday life–Christ commands you to live uniquely
4) Get CLOSE enough to the lost for them to taste and see Christ and His Gospel
5) Be driven by LOVE, so others might want what you have–live attractively
Are you ready to become influential for Christ–to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Our Lord began the Sermon on the Mount with the beatitudes–those unique qualities that belong to all genuine Christians, which set us apart from all people, religious and secular. He just told His listeners–if we live those beatitudes, then people will not like our certain declarations that Christ is the only way, or the truth that all other religions are false and that God alone can save you. And they won’t like our loving the unlovely, our mercy, our grace, our forgiveness and our unstoppable joy. Some will get mad, even others will attack.
Taking a stand for Christ will not always be applauded. Verse 12 says all of us, to some degree, will be persecuted just like the prophets of old. But Jesus now says in verses 13 to 16, we are also those who are the most influential for what really matters–the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel, and God’s glory. On the heels of the beatitudes, Jesus tells Christians you are the influential for God’s character and for God’s purposes on this planet. You will be salt and light–you will be tasty and shiny in this bland and dark world.
You’re not to be passive, Christian. No–you’re salt, that which flavors. And you are light–that which shines. Salt permeates and light illuminates–pointing everyone to the source of light and life, our Lord Jesus Christ.
You all, as the Church together, and each of you as individual Christians, cannot accept the world’s self-centeredness, pride, immorality, and materialism. You are called by God to minister to the world, while being separate from its ways. Sadly, today the church is more influenced by the world, than the world is influenced by the Church. Regardless, the Lord charges His listeners on this acoustically perfect slope by the Sea of Galilee to be influential for Christ with these words in verse 13, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
“You are the salt of the earth”–this is a statement pointed right at you. The “you” is an emphatic assertion of fact. “You are the salt”–you and no one else but you. And the “you” is plural, you all here–individually and corporately are the salt right now. Not could be, or should be, or will be–but you are now, each of you and all of you, salt. The question is, is your saltiness still tasty? This is what Christians are. This statement is not a command, but a declaration. The very fact you belong to Christ–Christ is in you and Christ lives through you makes you His salt while you are a part of this world. Are you tasty?
What is salt? Salt is a mineral, primarily sodium chloride, NaCl. In its natural form, it’s a natural crystalline mineral. It’s essential to life and is one of the basic human tastes–in fact, salt is one of the oldest and most widely used seasonings for food. Primarily, salt was used as a seasoning. Early on, it was also used as a preservative–called salting, brining or pickling food to keep it edible on long journeys or voyages.
But the main emphasis of Christ here is using salt as a tasty seasoning, because he uses it in terms of taste, and later speaks of attractive deeds. It is positive, not negative. Back in the first century, salt was way more valuable than it is today. Except for the sun, nothing was more valuable to the Romans than salt–that’s big. It was so treasured by the Romans, they sometimes paid their soldiers partially in salt. Our English word salary comes from the Latin word for salt. And the phrase, “He’s not worth his salt,” came from a lazy or ineffective Roman soldier not being worth his pay–a salary which partially included a portion of salt.
Back in the first century, if you wanted to prove to anyone you wanted them as your friend, you’d share your salt with them–then they’d know you are serious. So you collegians, if you are dating—give her salt. And sometimes to sign a contract, it was sealed with salt–the unbreakable bond of salt. The audience listening to the Sermon on the Mount would immediately understand that salt of the earth represented a valuable commodity. They would get that Christians have a very important function in this world–salt stood for high value and big importance and taste.
Another reason you’re the salt of the earth is that salt is unlike that which it influences. God has changed us from being part of the dead, dry, dull world into being salt that can help flavor it with His character. By definition, an influence must be different from that which it influences–so Christians must be different from the world they are called to influence. We cannot bring God’s flavor to the world when we are just like the world ourselves. We must live unique–we must stand out, like Christ. You are the salt of the earth.
But here is the danger–verse 13, “but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?” A lot of salt found in Israel–like by the shores of the Dead Sea, is contaminated with minerals that make it taste flat, even gross. When contaminated salt found its way into a household, it was thrown out. People would be careful not to throw it in a garden or field, because it would kill whatever was planted. Instead, salt would be thrown onto a path or road, where it would gradually be ground into the dirt and disappear.
Everyone knew what Jesus meant when He said in verse 13, “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” Now there is a sense in which salt cannot really become un-salty. But contamination can cause salt to lose its value as salt. Its saltiness can no longer function (it’s no longer tasty). Jesus is not teaching that you can lose your salvation. God does not allow any of His own children to ever be taken from Him. John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
Jesus assures us, Christians can’t be kicked out of His family, just as salt cannot lose its inherent saltiness. But Christians can lose their value and effectiveness for Christ’s purposes here, when sin and worldliness contaminate their lives, just as salt can become tasteless when contaminated by other minerals. It is a common New Testament truth that although true believers are identified as righteous, godly, and salty, there are times when we fail to live up to who we are–amen? Which Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:9 to 10 leads to loss of assurance–not a loss of salvation.
Hundreds of pages have been written by commentators about what salt does. They say, salt purifies, it preserves, it flavors, it heals, and it creates thirst. But, my FBC family–of Bible interpreters, what does Jesus say in this sermon? What does the Lord teach in this verse? Look at what Jesus says. “If the salt has become [what?] tasteless.” How is the Lord using salt here? “Tasteless”–as a seasoning, to bring taste to food. That’s what He means! Primarily, Christ is speaking about salt’s flavor in the world–your valuable and important influence from Christ living in you and through you can be lost.
Here in town and across the world, true believers are to be a witness to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our talk and our walk–they must match. A salty life–a life which lives out the beatitudes brings power to our proclamation. But you and I can lose our saltiness–we can lose our powerful influence for Christ. How? By becoming contaminated. Mixed with the world, we lose our salty taste. As one version says, “if you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?” They won’t.
Those who live just like the world have no influence for Christ in the world. Those who no longer live the beatitudes will no longer show the beauty of Christ. Those who lose their saltiness, become useless to the Kingdom of Christ. Those who slide through life avoiding Christian collisions, will drift into no flavor. Those who remain average; ‘under the radar’ believers, will soon lose their tastiness.
Compromise is the deadly cancer to our witness to the world. Again, Jesus asks in verse 13b, “How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” If salt lost its flavor in the ancient world, it was used in roads to keep the vegetation out. It was only good for walking on. It lost its value and its great importance. Now, instead of flavoring food, the salt was merely used as weed abatement.
When we are seduced by the sirens of materialism, expediency, moral laxity, comfort and even complacency, then the beauty of Christ in us will be lost. However, if we maintain our convictions of Christ and His Word, if we pursue living out the Word of God in dependent obedience, if we pursue practicing the beatitudes–then people will inevitably take notice. We will be positive in our influence for Christ. Lost family and friends will be drawn to us, like salt is to popcorn. How? Husbands who adore their wives, wives who brag about their husbands, children who esteem their parents, students who actually seek to apply the wisdom of older saints, Christians who love their church, who manifest joy in trial, who demonstrate love for one another, those who are poor in spirit, taking the Lord seriously, but not themselves at all–those qualities make you salty and attractive.
As the Saviors’ salt, you’re to infiltrate the earth with the seasoning of godliness, faithfulness, holiness, justice and righteousness. God’s people should be known for their courage, convictions over truth, but also for their love, grace and forgiveness. And being attractive doesn’t mean you should not say, “No” to things. You should stand on truth, express your belief in only two genders, for sex in marriage only, and marriage only between a born male and a born female, state your belief in six-day creationism, be bold telling others that lying, greed, lust, materialism, laziness, and selfishness is sin.
Love is not always nice. Kindness is not always indulgent. And tolerance is not always a virtue. “No” is often the most loving thing a parent or pastor or a Christian can say.
Verses 14 to 15, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” The “you” is also emphatic. You are, and no one else is, the light. This is a fact–each of you and all of you are the light everyone sees. Again, it is not that you will be, or should be, the light–but you are now the light. The question is, what kind of light are you–bright or dull?
Light is electromagnetic radiation, which is both particle and wave, infrared on one end and ultraviolet on the other, with visible light as the focus of Christ’s comments In the Old Testament, light stood for revelation, instruction, hope, joy, righteousness, salvation and the radiance of God’s divine presence–and we know His name as Jesus Christ.
Christ is the source of our light. He is John 1:9, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Jesus says in John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” But now in a stunning way, as Jesus teaches the crowds, He looks at His disciples and says to them and to you, FBC–you’re the light. Once Christ left this physical world, His light comes to the world through those whom He has enlightened. We shine forth the reflected light of Christ. Ephesians 5:8, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Like the moon to the sun, Jesus teaches His listeners, “You are the light of the world.” How bright are you? How many lumens? Are you a weak flashlight or a lighthouse? Are you an old bulb or a laser? Are you ignorable or are you unavoidable?
I was asleep in the middle of the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night and I woke up with a bright light shining right in my face. I said, “Turn that light off!” not realizing that the moon had risen, and at full, it had lit our campsite up like daylight. And in the Grand Canyon, it was so bright, it woke me up out of a dead sleep. We are like the moon, reflecting the glory of the son. How bright are you? Why? What an incredible privilege we have of manifesting the glory of God to the lost and dying. As the Lord continues in His sermon, Jesus gives His listeners two examples.
First The Light on the Hill
Verse 14, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Christ has lighted us that we might enlighten the world … God intends his grace to be as conspicuous as a city built on a mountains brow.” God did not redeem us and call us into His Kingdom to hide us. He did not save us to be silent saints. We are to be a light–even when the stars are hidden by clouds or it’s a new moon, so the darkness is so thick you can cut it with a knife. We are to shine on the dark days. It’s dark now—we must shine.
Both in the daytime and nighttime, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. It’s literally the city laying on the very top of a huge hill–it is exposed for all to see. The city is conspicuous. By day, its houses and buildings stand out on the landscape, and at night the many lights shining out of its windows make it impossible to miss. A secret Christian is as absurd as a hidden light. Lights are to illuminate, not to be hidden–to be displayed, not to be covered. Christians are to be conspicuous light.
Second The Light in a House
Verse 15, “Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” The Greek word “light” occurs four times in verses 14 to 16. In verse 14, light is laid on a hill for the entire world to see. In verses 15 to 16, light is put on a stand in a house to illuminate the entire home. No one would ever think to light an oil lamp, then hide it under a basket. That is nonsense–Jesus is using first century humor here. His comments probably brought a chuckle from the disciples and the listening crowd.
No, the purpose of the lamp is to give light. Again, living out verses 3 to 8, the beatitudes in dependent obedience–living aware of your spiritual bankruptcy, your deep grief over sin, your dependence on God, your desperation to be righteous, your life of mercy to the undeserving. And through your new heart, living this way will bring you verses 9 to 12, persecution. But living this way will also make you a light to the world–you will impact this planet for Christ and His Gospel, just like Christ impacted this planet.
You will influence this world—you will. God will use you to bring Himself glory. Some of you are thinking, “Not me–that’s for the Luthers, Spurgeons, MacArthurs, CG leaders, youth pastors, childrens workers, and especially the set-up crew. No, a little light makes a big impact in a dark place–your school, workplace and neighborhood. But to impact others, you can’t live only for pleasure, only do what is convenient, dress any way you like, go where you want, do what you want, speak any way, or live like the world.
Christians today need to continually ask, “Will this point to Christ, or detract from Him? Will this make Christ look good, or will it distract others from Christ?” Take social media–you can’t post provocative pictures and be a light to the world. You can’t post every opinion and think you are honoring Christ. Recently, LA Times writer Jessica Gelt wrote this profound quote to all of you on social media. “Like a digital Tower of Babel, social media is evolving into an increasingly ugly and chaotic space — a real-time repository for our worst impulses, uninspired musings, scatological humor and ill-formed thoughts that should be kept to ourselves. It is an online Mall of America: vast, vacuous, relentlessly-commercial and soul-sucking. And in a time of immense crisis — political, ecological, social—it has become a garbage dump of vile commentary publicly aired because… that’s just what we do now.”
The Church today is losing its tastiness and losing its light, because it is increasingly imitating, emulating, following, and enamored with the world–its language, its crudeness, its opinions, its dress, its habits, its slang, its teasing lusts, and its entertainment. You and I have to cut some things out and cut some things loose, in order to be light. Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean you should do a thing. Ask, “Is it good, or better, or best?” The best is salt and light to a tasteless, dark world.
Verse 16, “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.” Jesus says when your light shines before others, they will see your good works. Not only are you dependently living out the beatitudes–a broken, dependent, merciful life. But you are also showing, doing, and impressing the lost with good works.
The Greek word “good” here is not agathos–that’s the moral good. No, this good is kalos, the attractive good–works that show off Christ, works that make people think of Jesus, works that are attractive to people. It is not just free stuff, but acts of kindness, concern, care, compassion, helping the hurting, supporting, praying, loving and giving actions. And you see them–these works are not hidden under a basket. They’re out in the open for all to see. Not for your praise, but for others to praise your Father who is in Heaven.
The lost see visible good works and it makes them think of the invisible God. They observe attractive deeds and they glorify God, because they recognize that God is behind these actions. Catch this–the Lord wants these attractive good deeds done by you enough, that He commands it here. “Let shine” is a general command–not every day, but intentionally plan, aggressively execute, sometimes massively fail–but never stop doing and keep, preparing to do attractive good works.
Even though some will persecute you for living a salty and a shiny life, others will be mesmerized by your humble life and attractive good deeds. And some will think of the Father and not you. They will assign to God what they see in the life of a faithful Christian. Followers of Jesus are not the source of these good works, but only the conduit–you are only the channel. The spotlight is not on us. The focus is all on the Father. The purpose of letting our light shine and reveal our good works is not to bring attention or praise to ourselves, but to God. By what we say and by good deeds we do, our intention is that others may see God, in order to glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
Jesus is emphasizing God’s tenderness and intimacy, by addressing Him as our Father here. And the Lord is picturing the splendor of our eternal home by mentioning Heaven, as well as pointing to God’s eternality, God’s greatness, and God’s majesty, the God of Heaven. To glorify God is to be displaying His character and honoring His attributes. Your intentional, planned out good works at school, at work, with your unsaved friends are intended to magnify God’s saving grace and saving power. Salvation only comes from God.
This is our highest calling–to glorify God, showing off His character and explaining His Gospel. Everything we intentionally do is to cause others to give praise to the God who saved us. Would you agree? A righteous life and a bold witness are a powerful combination. Jesus is calling His disciples and calling you to do what missionary to India, William Carey shouts, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” I hope you TAP into God’s Word today–T.A.P. is points1,2,3 Tasty, Attractive, and Purposeful–TAP.
A Search your heart as to your WILLINGNESS to be salt and light
For you to be influential, there are several things that must happen in your heart. You cannot walk away today and instantly be influential for Christ the way you want. The Lord requires a willing heart–remember what must be true of you.
1 You must live fully aware of WHY you are here on Earth—to glorify, serve and share
2 EMBRACE Christ’s mission for you on Earth—to demonstrate His character, share His Gospel
3 Pursue living out the beatitudes in everyday life–Christ commands you to live UNIQUELY
4 Get CLOSE enough to the LOST for them to taste and see Christ and His Gospel
5 Be driven by LOVE, so others might want what you have–live attractively. Will you?
B What current STRUGGLES are hiding your light or diminishing your tastiness?
Fear of man, pride, the shame of some sinfulness, your personal comfort, peer pressure, parental expectations, personal ambitions, distractions or selfishness? Maybe you just like your personal freedoms, sports, entertainment, video games, amusement parks, church, friendships or family so much, you give being attractive no time. For many Christians, it is just plain fear–will you admit it? You will not make waves, you continually remain silent, you will not speak up, you’ve not stood on truth and you refuse to confront error because you are afraid.
When you remain silent over truth, you are not being wise–you are merely being a coward, and all of us need to repent. Many of us are not very tasty and not very attractive, because we are afraid. Now get this, Christian–in the flesh you will remain silent, in the Spirit you will begin to speak. The Spirit in you wishes to speak and desires you to do attractive deeds. Second Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
C Are you working at being ATTRACTIVE to the Lost?
You are here to point to Christ. After watching your life and hearing your words, would your lost friends want Christ? If a believer is not fulfilling his purpose, then he is on the way to disaster. We are meant to be tasty salt, and an attractive light pointing to the Gospel–you have a purpose here, and if you don’t pursue it, it will lead to ruin, to compromise. Uselessness invites disaster. You will pursue other things, which always leads to disaster.
So many places now encourage Christians to act more like undertakers than joyful, forgiven children of God. When the lost look at Christians, many are discouraged. Emperor Julian, who followed after Constantine, said of Christians, “Have you looked at these Christians closely? Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all; they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition: the sun shines for them, but they do not see it: the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die.”
Yuck! That’s not tasty and shiny! If we would labor to be filled with the Spirit and dependently obey the commands to “rejoice always” and “in everything give thanks”, we would be 100% more attractive. When your heart is filled with thanks for Christ and His work, then your face will show it. Then when you add good works–now you’re cookin with gas, friends. Now, you’re attractive–fixing their car, helping them with their kids, caring for their needs, bringing them a meal or those tasty cookies you make. You can and should be making Christ attractive.
You have to intentionally plan to do it–will you? Is anyone attracted to your life or want to have your heart of joy, love and peace? If not, why not? No tastiness and no light means no salvation. God did not give the Gospel of His Son to be a secret, hidden treasure for a few, but to enlighten everyone you know. Many reject the light and reject those who bring it. But just as God offers His light to the whole world, so must His children offer light to the lost. It is not our Gospel, but God’s Gospel–and He gives it to us not only for our own sakes, but for the lost next door and worldwide. True believers are salt and light–you are tasty and attractive. The only question is, how tasty and how attractive are you?
If you’re not, for some, you need to surrender your life by faith, turn from your sin in repentance, believing that Christ is God who took your punishment on the cross, rose from the dead to give you new life now and forever. Cry out to Him to open your heart and change you. Plead with Him to wash you totally clean of your sin. Tell Him how sorry you are for ruining your life and ask Him to now take over, as you live for and follow Christ alone. Let’s pray.