Example Described – Salt

See full series: 2019-sermons
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019

Example Described – Salt

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Matthew 5:13



Sunday, 1/20/19 am                                                         

The Power of Example (1) – Salt

     Last week, we announced our theme for the year. We addressed three area we want to focus on – what it means to be an example, where are we to be an example, and what is involved in being an example (attitudes and actions that affect our influence).   Today we want to begin our study by talking about what an example is and then we will begin to discuss how examples are described in scripture. This is the first of 3 lessons on part of the discussion.   Today we talk about being like salt.     This will be followed by some lessons dealing with examples of being examples both good and bad, an emphasis on letting our light shine, and a study of what different looks like.   After this we will address some other aspects associated with being a proper example.

I.   What is an example?

  1. Defined – a person who acts as an illustration or model of something.   It is someone we look up to in order to learn from them OR it is the realization that others are looking to us, so we OUGHT TO conduct ourselves in such a way that we will influence them in a proper direction.
  2. Examples are designed to inform – simply stated, an example is observed information to give us direction.
  3. They are found everywhere – literally. Everything and everyone we see is an example of something.
    • Consider that we can look to life and find examples.   Passages give us examples of this:
    • – James 3:4 – look also at ships with their small rudders turning them in the direction intended – James uses this as an example of the power of the tongue.   Also in that text, the fire and bits in a horse’s mouth.
    • – Hebrews 12:9-11 – earthly fathers disciplined us – we learn from this about the benefit of the chastening of God.
    • – Proverbs 6:6-8 – go to the ant, you sluggard!   Consider her ways and be wise… Many of the proverbs set forth examples of proper and improper behaviors.
    • – Often, preachers make application based upon life experiences – they use examples to help us better understand Biblical concepts.
    • –  The parables of Jesus were examples – Jesus would talk about farming, fishing, household chores, masters and their servants, weddings, neighbors, money, etc.   All to illustrate (give examples) the kingdom of heaven.   He even explained WHY He spoke in parables in Matthew 13:11, He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
  4. Of course, our concern is with our influence on others, which is the focus of our studies.
    Be reminded, that we are always being examples to someone, and very likely someone is being an example to us.   We will notice numerous individuals in coming lessons, both of good and bad examples.

II.   The Power of Example

  1. Never underestimate the power of examples.
  2. They can accomplish many things both for good or bad.
  3. They can have lasting effects – sometimes they are not forgotten (people remember what you did or said years later, especially what you did to or for them);
  4. Can be a source of learning – think of the business that provides you someone to show you what you will be doing;
  5. Spiritually, you can win one over OR turn them away by your example; you can encourage in difficult times, etc.
  6. Often times examples are not apparent – you never know when you are being watched.
    At times, you may be ignored by one whom you are trying to influence OR at times you may not know what type of example you are to someone else.   There are people just living life and doing the right thing and being watched even though they don’t realize it.   Someone might take “inspiration” from their example and make improvements in their life or to stand firm.   Consider the Philippians as they heard about Paul –   Philippians 1:12-14 – as a result of hearing about his stand, they were more confident and bold to speak without fear. You just don’t know. SOMETIMES you will find out about, either shortly thereafter or maybe years later, but you may NEVER know.
    It is possible to be an example without a name or being recognized by those watching you.
  7. Similarly, if you are engaging in bad behavior, others are watching and may take that as a misconception that something is acceptable behavior.   Heed the warning of 1 Corinthians 8:10 which speaks of one observing you eating in an idol’s temple and the weak is emboldened to participate.

III.                 Descriptions of being examples – Salt

  1. Salt – second to the subject of light, salt is probably the most powerful description of being an example.
    Jesus directly addressed this in Matthew 5:13 Mark 9:50 – where Jesus said that salt is good, and seasons.   “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”   Be good examples is the point.
    We sometimes hear the expression, “He is the salt of the earth” which typically means he one who is living an exemplary life worthy of consideration. He is one who is making the world a better place. Salt has several qualities worthy of notice

    • It is necessary for life – it is a part of our makeup and we need a certain amount of salt to survive (though man ingest too much, which can be harmful).
      Similarly, the “salt of God’s word” is necessary to sustain our spiritual lives.
    • Flavors – salt can take bland foods and make them pleasant tasting.
      Jesus is at least observing this in Mark 9:50 and Matthew 5:13.   And it is one of the greater descriptions of what salt does.
      As Christians, we are to do our best to be of a pleasant disposition in this world. When we live with integrity, kindness, respect and genuine care, we are making the world just a little bit better.
    • Typically, it is designed to be taken with something else.   As Christians our example is extremely important, but it is not everything. It can give us credibility, but we still need to teach someone the truth.   John 8:32, Jesus taught that the truth shall make you free.   John 17:17, it is truth by which we are sanctified.   Our influence gives us the credibility to teach others who are searching or interested.
    • Preserves – while still used today as a natural preservative, in previous generations, it was much more necessary and valuable.   Salts would be used to keep meats from spoiling.
      Similarly, in this crooked and perverse generation, Christians are somewhat of a preservative to the world.   Standing and fighting for truth and what is right, including our example, will help preserve this world from total decay, will help preserve the church from apostasy, can and can save the family from humanism.
      I think of examples of the godly in scripture preserving life – for example: Moses pleads with God to keep Him from destroying Israel after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:11-14)
      Because of the righteousness of king Josiah, the inevitable destruction of Judah was postponed – (2 Kings 22:20)
      Ultimately, Jesus dying on the cross for us, preserved us from eternal   destruction.
    • Creates thirst – salty foods and drinks produce thirst.   That is not always bad as it provokes us to drink water which we need.
      In John 4:10-14, at the well of Samaria, Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman living water that He would provide.   We know this was spiritual water leading to salvation. John 7:38, Jesus said, He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We still need to drink freely of this living water.     What are we doing to provoke thirst for His water in others?   By our godly example, we can provoke that thirst.
    • Can be an irritant – consider salt poured in a wound.   What is interesting about this, is at times salt is good for sores (especially in the mouth, and certain types of wounds), as it dries up the bacteria causing the infection.   This CAN be helpful.
      Similarly, as the “salt the earth” by our Christian example we may be an irritant to the ungodly. We show the ungodly they don’t have to live that way (it is possible to live without ungodly practices), we remind them of their “wounds” and miseries, etc.
      It was because Jesus was an irritant that they sought to get rid of Him (Luke 23:2, where He was described to Pilate as one who was perverting the nation, etc.)
      The same with Paul (Acts 24:5, he was described as a plague by the Jewish leaders in Caesarea). In Philippi, Paul and Silas were said to have “exceedingly trouble our city” (Acts 16:20). They were beaten and thrown into prison.
      But we continue be salt, because others are searching.
    • Can ruin – salt is not something we just eat. It is sprinkled on our foods, etc. All it takes is a small amount of salt.   In fact, too much salt make food inedible.
      It can destroy a field – as was a custom in times past.   A conquered people would have their fields sown with salt so they could not grow crops to thrive.
      One of the challenges we face as Christians is making sure we use our influence like salt – good and pleasant, but not too much.   We can be irritants when we ought not to be.   No one likes to have opinions or even demands FORCED on them.   Many are turned off by it.
    • For salt to be effective it must come in contact with something (or someone). As examples, we cannot be “the salt of the earth” if we do not “sprinkle” it on others with our lives.
    • It can lose its effectiveness – Again, consider Matthew 5:13 where Jesus noted if it loses its flavor it is good for nothing. We must CONTINUALLY be salt.
    • Finally, Colossians 4:6 – let your speech be seasoned with salt.   Here is one example of how we can be the salt we need to be.

In this lesson we have examined how salt illustrates being an example.   This is just one of many illustrations.   In our next lesson we will notice several more.   Meanwhile, let me encourage you to consider whether or not you are being the salt of the earth, in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation.