After sitting behind several cars in the drop off line at the middle school, it was my turn to pull up to the school entrance. As always, I told my youngest daughter that I loved her, I’d see her after school, and to have a great day. But I was also in the habit of a few more parting words. As she opened her car door, she knew what was coming. She quickly darted her eyes to see who might be within earshot of me as I always ended my goodbyes with, “Go shine your light and shake your salt!” This was followed by rolled eyes, a smile, and a final “love you too!”
Of course, my admonition comes from Matthew 5:14-16 which says that Christians are to be a light that shines to all those within our own house (verse 15), to those in our communities (verse 14), and to the whole world (verse 14). It isn’t about showing off our good works to be seen, but rather to point people to the Father. Matthew 5:13 compares Christians to salt. We are told that if we aren’t adding our “flavor” to those around us, we are “good for nothing!”
So how do we shine our light and shake our salt to influence others? Here are a few thoughts:
Be intentional. We need to be intentional about our Christianity. We often make general statements like, “I want to be a good example to everyone I meet.” That’s fine, but it isn’t specific enough. Find an individual or a group of people that you want to influence for Christ. Be able to name them and specifically mention them in your prayers. It could be someone you see daily at work, school, the community, social activities, or even at church. You may choose an elderly person, a young mother, a teenager, or a young child. Just find someone with whom you can make a personal connection.
Be authentic. No one likes a pushy salesperson. It is possible to come on too strong or too aggressively, talk more than we listen, and push our agenda rather than focusing on theirs. People will see through phony attitudes and behaviors (Psalm 5:9, Titus 1:16). Our motivation should always be about love and genuine concern for the other person. Their life, their situation, their problems are more important than our own (Philippians 2:3).
Be a person of integrity. If we want to influence someone, they need to trust that we are who we say we are. No one likes a hypocrite (Matthew 7:5, Romans 12:9)! We need to be sure that how we portray ourselves privately matches how we portray ourselves publicly in our speech, our morality, and our faithfulness (Galatians 6:3).
Pray for opportunities. We are told to do good for others as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10). However, we should also pray for God to open up those opportunities for us (1 John 5:14-15). When we are working along with God, according to His will, there is no limit on the good that can be accomplished and the impact made in the lives of others.
Teach others. We all have something to share with others. We can teach formally in Bible classes, but also in everyday ways through emails, social media, cards, Bible correspondence courses, and conversations. Sharing the gospel and the blessings God has given us should be a natural outpouring of what we have received (Hebrews 13:16).
Serve and encourage others. We need to show people that we care about them. When we build people up through encouraging words (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13) or serve others by doing good deeds (Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:7), we get their attention. Especially look for people who are struggling or hurting in life. When people are at their lowest, your good deeds won’t go unnoticed.
Know the risks. Remember that not everyone will appreciate your light. Putting yourself out there can lead to personal rejection, ridicule, and even persecution (Matthew 5:11-12).
When our lives reflect Jesus through our words, attitudes, and behaviors, people will notice. By being intentional with our Christianity and putting the spotlight on God rather than ourselves, we can help others see the Father more clearly with a light that shines in a dark world and a salt that flavors the lives of others.