Influence

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares His followers to salt, stating: “You are the salt of the earth….” (Matt 5:13). What is it about salt that would cause Jesus to make this comparison? What quality or characteristic does salt have that could be likened to a disciple of Jesus?

One fact about salt is undeniable: it always influences that which it comes into contact with. It seasons food, melts ice, preserves meats, and has antiseptic, healing qualities. In comparing us with salt, Jesus is making reference to the power of influence—our personal influence and that of the gospel.

Influence is defined as: “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone” (Oxford Living Dictionary). This is an excellent definition! As Christians, we are to influence others for Christ. The word has its roots in medieval Latin meaning an inflow or to flow into—specifically, “the flowing in of ethereal fluid affecting human destiny” (Oxford).

Jesus spoke of the idea of flowing: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (John 7:38-39). As the Spirit of Christ lives in us (Rom 8:9; Gal 2:20; Col 3:16), rivers of living water—the gospel message—the love and the light of Christ, should flow from us into the lives of others. This is the fundamental nature of salt—influence.

But, Jesus continues in Matthew 5:13, “But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” This is a grave warning for us to not lose our seasoning ability—our godly influence. How can we keep this from happening?

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 2:27). “Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58). “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8). “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col 4:6). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

In doing this, we will “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things!” (Titus 2:10). And we will be the salt of the earth—the positive influence that God would have us to be, for our sake and the sake of those around us! (1 Tim 4:16).

Terry Schmidt

04-22-18

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