In 1865, Londoners William and Catherine Booth had a goal to serve the poor of their city: “First, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.” Their ministry, The Salvation Army, now serves over 25 million people in 127 countries every year with its mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name.”
Today’s passage brings us to the feet of Jesus as He teaches the crowds what it looks like to follow Him. And Jesus tells us that He has made us to be salt in the world (v. 13). Salt, as commentator Matthew Henry explains, means that we must “not only be good but do good.” (And see the “Q&A” column in this issue for more on this important metaphor about our calling to be salt.) We do good so that our service to our neighbors might “transform them into the taste and relish of the gospel.”
Jesus also tells us that we must be light (vv. 14–16). As we saw a few days ago, our holy conduct cuts through the fog and confusion of the surrounding world like a beam from a bright star. Part of our holy witness is to do good to the people around us. We don’t huddle in our homes, keeping the joy of our salvation only to ourselves. We allow our faith to spill over in acts of kindness so that other people might know joy in Christ, too.
If we are kind to our neighbors, we display the character of Christ Himself. If, on the other hand, we ignore our neighbors, we act as if the gospel has made no difference in our lives. Our goal in doing good is never to get praise for ourselves. Rather, our goal is to encourage others to glorify the God in whose name we act.
Evangelists must be kind to their neighbors. As we see that they have burdens and needs, we have an opportunity to care for them and to show them the love of Christ. What needs do you see in the lives of people you encounter every day? Think of one thing you could do to “let your light shine” for Christ today.