If you could be any flavor you want, which flavor would you choose? Sweet, sour, salty, or bitter? At first thought, I would want to be sweet as honey. But after careful consideration, I realize it may not be a very wise idea. While candy can bring a smile or two to someone's face, too much of it yields only empty calories, and we all know where those excess calories will end up! All honeybonnie and lovydovy is all fluff and no substance, offering no lasting value. I want to be something that affects others in a big way and I want my flavor to last. So I choose to be salty.
Why salty? Well, what does salt offer? How does salt spice up our lives? Jesus desires for all of us to be the salt of the world, so we must understand exactly how we can be salty (Matthew 5:13).
Salt serves several purposes: it spices up dishes, preserves food, soothes a sore throat, and disinfects, among others. For instance, adding just a tiny bit of salt to food can make all the difference to our taste buds, and before the refrigerator was invented, people used salt to preserve food. In light of these functions of salt, how should we affect the world, spiritually?
Well, our role as the salt of the world and our position as the world's light should compliment each other. As we bring warmth and delight to others as the light, we're adding flavor to their lives as the salt. While we're guiding and leading people to live by godly principles as a beacon, we're preserving the world from moral decay. And when we expose the works of darkness, and warn and discipline wrongdoers, we're disinfecting people from sin.
But first, in order to positively affect our world, we will have to become different from the world in a good way and remain different; we will have to be set apart. If the world is dark, we'll have to be light; if the world is bitter, we'll have to be sweet. This is what being holy and sanctified means. We are to be holy because, as Jehovah our Creator says, "I am holy." (Leviticus 44:11, WEB.) Many of us wince at the thought of being "holy," picturing an unhappy someone rigidly following a set of manmade do's and don'ts: don't touch this, don't eat that, don't get married. While these rules of man "appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body," they are meaningless, not effective in fighting off the sinful indulgence of our flesh (Colossians 2:23). Even though being different means that we indeed need to avoid certain activities, we are not to be weighed down by external customs and rituals when they don't truly reach down into our hearts and change us into better people. On the contrary, holiness means wholeness and perfect in mind, body and spirit; and sanctified means set apart for good use by God. Becoming holy is a work done by God for us, whereas external religious rituals are man's vain attempt to become holy apart from God.
Now, some may think that when we are holy and set apart, we must stay away from the world--those who live in contrary to God's righteous will--in case we are negatively influenced. That's so untrue! How can we positively affect the world when we are not present in the world? When we prepare our meals, do we hide the salt shaker? Of course not; instead, we make sure it's always present so we can shake some salt into our food. Likewise, we must be in the world, yet not of the world (John 17:16-18). Being in the world and not of the world, we can add flavor to the world while not losing our saltiness and not allowing the world to take away our saltiness.
If we allow ourselves to be negatively influenced by the world and adopt its way of life, we would become a friend of the world, and "don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4) We are not to "love the world, neither the things that are in the world." If we love the world, we don't have God's love in us, for "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn't the Father's, but is the world's. The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God's will remains forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
How are you fulfilling your role as the salt of the world? If you're not sure where or how to start to shake your salt, then perhaps you'll receive some inspiration by reading what other salty people are doing, including yours truly:
"Every day, I write a devotional which is posted on my Facebook fan page, website, and Twitter. These places have fans from 20+ countries who take the opportunity to read and be encouraged by words from the Bible. Since the devotionals I post are written that day and taken from my own personal time with God that morning, this endeavor is very personal to me and allows God to use what He is teaching me to encourage and convict others as well." -Kristi Burchfiel, Author of Without Regrets: A Study of Ecclesiastes 4, Kansas, USA
"I believe the ways in which we are most effectively salt in this world is by loving well--loving our family and all those God brings across our path, from the kids on my husband's baseball team to orphans we work with each Friday afternoon. Perhaps most poignantly, being salt involves loving those who are quite frankly not so lovable--the obnoxious kid, the foul-mouthed child, the one who is so hurtful in lashing out. 'Loving well' is a tough job, but it's one we're called to. And we are not without examples: 'Greater love has no one than this--to lay down one's life for one's friends.' (John 15:13)" -Trudy Chun, Missionary, Author of Love & Ashes: A Bible Study of Love, Loss & Ultimate Romance, Hungary
"In order to be salt of the earth, we strive to be a Kingdom Business. This means that we are guided by Biblical Core Values as we try to live into the unique role God has planned for us in the marketplace. This represents a challenge to all of our team members to be different in the workplace to be more loving, more grace-filled, to represent Christ, and fight for justice. This impacts not only how we interact with each other but also how we work with vendors, customers, and the community at large. We strive to be different from the rest of the world so that, through that, the folks we touch will see Jesus." -Todd E. Miller, President, Classic Metal Roofing Systems, Ohio, USA
"I challenge myself each day to be an activator for people to experience Jesus. I continually pray for God to open my eyes and ears throughout the day so I can see and hear what He wants me to see and hear so that I can be His hands and feet by providing a kind word, a helping hand, a meal for the hungry, a prayer for a lost soul or whatever the situation needs according to how the Holy Spirit leads. This is not how I envisioned spending my days as I was a very successful businessman, a religious skeptic and one who had a powerful Damascus Road experience. Since surrendering my life to Jesus I have walked away from my dream, gone back to school to earn a Master of Divinity and now preach the Gospel wherever He opens the door." -Norm Grant, Preacher, Ontario, Canada
"The salt of the earth role that I play encompasses what I do in my daily life. Sometimes the best and in some cases the only Bible a person may read is by watching your testimony and life. Therefore I strive every day to be testimony conscientiously not only in public but also when no one is looking as well." -Kevin Benton, Author & Child Care/Social Worker, Pennsylvania, USA
"I am fulfilling my role as salt of the world by helping others to learn more about God's Word. One of the ways I do this is by gathering Bible verses that speak directly to a situation that a friend is going through, printing those out, and sending them to him/her with a note reminding him/her that God's Word is the best medicine for any situation we are going through." -Laura Wasson Warfel, Communications Specialist, Olivet Nazarene University, Illinois, USA
"I travel all over the state and sometimes country preaching the truth of Jehovah as plainly taught in the Bible. A little over a year ago I started a house church and have had the blessed honor of teaching slowly through the Bible with them. I pray that I will have the opportunity to preach the truth of Jesus to my final breath." -Ryan Dalgliesh, Preacher, Author of Love Notes: A Biblical Look at Love, Texas, USA
"I personally fulfill my salt role by being the hands and feet of Jesus both locally and internationally through mission outreaches. Over the last several years, my team and I have shared God's love and compassion with people of all races and ages in Houston and the surrounding areas, as well as in Central America. We have provided food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, shared God's love and forgiveness with prisoners and have seen many come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Matthew 25:31-40 is the driving force behind our work because we desire for our King to say, 'As often as you have done it unto one the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.'" -Joan Murray, Joan Murray Ministries, Minister, Author, Missionary, Texas, USA
"I am fulfilling the role of being a salty Christian by first focusing on my relationship with Christ. When I do this others notice that I'm loving, peaceful, and have a joy that is attractive. Secondly I'm using my talent as a writer to direct others to Christ, the ultimate example of salt, who cleanses us from sin and preserves us for heaven." -Teresa Sells, Author/Writer, Arizona, USA
"I am fulfilling my role as the salt of the world, in many ways. First and foremost, by living my life in a way that causes people to wonder what's different about me. This usually prompts them to ask questions, enabling me to share the gospel with them. I also look and listen for opportunities to share Jesus and pray with strangers who randomly voice their problems to me at the grocery store and other public places." -Ruth Thompson, Senior Pastor of New Hope Worship Center, Children's Author of I Cannot Tell a Lie, Mississippi, USA
"I make God's will known to others. As rubbing salt onto a wound hurts, sinful humanity winces when they are told of God's moral laws. Even though people may not always like to hear the truths of God, I uncompromisingly lay down God's will because I know only God's truths can satisfy humans' thirst for true love, peace, and happiness." -Yours Truly, Gospel Proclaimer, New York, USA
Do you notice a common thread running through these responses of salty Christians? These people demonstrate to us that being the salt of the world is a lifestyle. Salt is what we are, whether we are at home, work, or dining out. Being salty is not something we decide to be whenever we feel like it. We are to constantly present our bodies as "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual service"; we are not to be "conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our minds], so that [we] may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God." (Romans 2:1-2)
So go, be the salt of the world! Remember Jesus' words for us to remain salty at all times: "If the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men." (Matthew 5:13) Don't lose your flavor!
~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~
This month's question is from Donna Lee, who's a Pulitzer Prize contender for her book, Nowheresville, Everywhere, Earth, which is available at www.authorhouse.com/bookstore Visit her site at http://www.justdonna.g2gm.com/whats_new.html
Question: With all the controversy in the early first millennium about the nature of the personage known as Jesus Christ, such as the Council of Nicea of 325 A.D., the myriad of versions of the Bible, including the many 'mistake' Bibles that have deliberate or otherwise mistakes, and the many editings of the Bible over the centuries (which is true of just about any holy book), the fact (or rumor or history) that King James was into bestiality and suppressed the last edition of the Bible which was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew before putting out the King James Version, most of which the vast majority of people have never heard about, not practicing Christians, not most of the general public, wouldn't you say that it's very hard to know or even believe a lot of what Christianity is supposed to be about except as an institution to hoodwink and control the majority?
Answer: First off, our modern Bible versions are essentially the same doctrinally as the oldest surviving manuscripts of both the Old and New Testaments. Since we have tens of thousands of manuscripts from different time periods, scholars, linguists, and translators have been able to compare them and therefore, discover manmade errors, whether made by mistake or deliberately. (These manuscripts are copies of the copies of the copies, etc. of the originals or "autographs"; copies were made by hand in order to preserve the text.)
During the first century, the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) was a popular version, which Jesus' disciples and apostles (and it seems even Jesus himself) used and quoted from. Thus, their use attested to the reliability of that version. We still have that version, which, besides manmade errors, is essentially the same in doctrine as our modern Bible translations. It's wording is also similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest surviving Hebrew manuscripts which date between 200 and 70 BC.
The oldest manuscripts we have of the New Testament (Greek Scriptures) are dated between 200 and 400 AD (a fragment of the Gospel of John is dated around 125 AD), and scholars affirm that those versions are doctrinally the same as our modern versions; only errors made by copyists exist, and these errors do not affect Biblical doctrines. Thus, the Bible in its entirety has been preserved for these past 3,500 years.
Second, the Bible is unlike any other sacred text ever existed. The Bible is proven to be the only book written by God. The Bible is:
a) Historically accurate: Archeologists have unearthed evidences of certain people, places, and events described in the Bible, and historians have attested to the Bible's historical accuracy.
b) Scientifically sound: The Bible stated certain scientific facts thousands of years before scientists proved them. No contradiction between Bible accounts and scientific facts exists.
c) Prophetic: Hundreds of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled exactly as they were foretold hundreds and thousands of years before the events actually took place. Only a handful of prophecies are yet to be fulfilled, and they concern all of humanity.
The Bible's historicity, scientific soundness, and fulfilled prophecies, among other unique characteristics, attest to its divine origin, setting it apart from all other books. No other book has the credentials the Bible has.
Lastly, the Bible is clear, concise, and consistent in laying down Christian principles. It is the primary source we should go to about Christianity and its accurate teachings, as it's the very eternal Word of God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, the Bible is the only source about Christianity we need, and it's the only source where we can find absolute truths of Christianity.
Pure Christianity as presented in the Bible is non-political, non-violent, and non-oppressive. The Bible commands Christians to respect and honor human governments and leaders (Romans 13:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Christianity operates on the principle of self-sacrificing love, as Jesus commanded, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) The earliest Christians would rather die than to disobey Bible teachings. They diligently followed this commandment: "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21) An uncounted number of Christians had indeed been martyred; they were tortured in various ways by various means until death released them. Even under such cruelty inflicted upon them, these Christians remained faithful to God till death, cursing or harming no one. These Christians followed in the footsteps of Jesus, who, after his executers drove long nails into his wrists and ankles, asked God to forgive them, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
Thus, when we study the Bible, analyze Jesus' examples, and examine how true Christians have lived out Biblical principles, it becomes unfounded and unreasonable for us to entertain in our minds even for a minute the idea that true Christianity is an "institution to hoodwink and control the majority." Is it wise for us to misjudge Christianity just because so-called Christians throughout the centuries have misrepresented the Bible by committing heinous acts against humanity and ultimately against God?
~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~
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~*~A Biblical Wisdom Nugget~*~
"One who spares the rod hates his son, but one who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Proverbs 13:24)
In the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, "rod" is often used to denote loving discipline, as in Psalm 23:4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
While we may not like the feeling of a rod poking at our sides like the way a sheep is led, such rod is always for our good, to direct us to the right path. Consequently, such a rod becomes our comfort.
Properly handling the rod of discipline helps bring children up into responsible adults. If a child misbehaves by stealing or hitting his friends, a caring parent would be sure to promptly discipline their child for his own good. Otherwise, if the parent remains silent, the child may learn that stealing and hitting others is acceptable and would therefore likely repeat the same behavior or worse yet, become a juvenile delinquent or criminal when he grows up.
Be careful how you use your rod. If you are a parent, are you using your rod to gently yet firmly prod your children in the right direction, or are you misusing it to vent out your frustration on your kids? The Bible promotes only healthy family relationships, telling fathers: "Don't provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4) Never abuse your power.
Parents are the shepherds of their children, who would be lost sheep in this tough world without their parents' guidance. So shepherd your flock with tender loving care. Don't let your little ones go astray; when they wander off, use your rod to gently lead them back on to the right path of God.
When you need an example of what a great shepherd entails, look no further; look up to our greatest Shepherd: Jesus Christ, who "lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11)
May the grace and peace from Jehovah God and Jesus Christ be with you.!
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Dr. Shirley Cheng
Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Proclaimer of Jehovah God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
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