You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
~Matthew 5:13 NIV~
There are those who cannot function in our society unless they are looking at things from one side or the other. Neither side wants to learn about or understand the other; they both just want to be right. Sadly, this is a large portion of the population. Many Christians would have you believe that we are called to be vigilant about one side or the other, but the reality is that the only way we can be vigilant against evil is to be very balanced in our treatment and understanding of one another. In order to choose life, we must understand and be compassionate about death. In order to be light, we must know why the darkness exists. We must seek to understand what we don’t want to be. And in that understanding, we find grace, mercy and compassion for one another which brings about the very kind of love that Christ walked the earth to teach so very long ago.
I was thinking yesterday morning that the thing which most often comes between us in our relationships is our need to be right. Our need to dominate one another on whichever side of an issue we choose to stand. But the key to truly loving each other is to meet in the middle, with God at the center, and allow the heart to absorb what it is about each other that is light. And in doing so, we sometimes have to be the salt that gets into the wounds and burns away the contaminants. Sometimes, we have to say things to each other to shake one another back into reality. Sometimes, when we see someone we love suffering through a problem that they are having trouble overcoming, the most loving thing we can do is to throw a little salt into it and help them get rid of whatever is causing the pain. Of course, we encourage them to pray. But we can also pray with them and for them; that God would give them the strength to bear up under the weight of whatever has been pressing them down.
Part of achieving that balance lies in not being afraid to confront sin. Sometimes, it isn’t necessarily sin that is weighing someone down, but just a lack of direction or courage. Which, technically could translate into sin if we’re trying to pick it apart. The point is that when a loved one is suffering, we should not be afraid to talk to them about it and try to direct them to God so that He can help them fix it. I read somewhere that salt creates a “hostile environment” for bacteria. And so, when we are afraid to say the things God puts on our hearts to say, we allow things to continue to attack those we love. If we think that it is none of our business or that maybe they will leave us if we tell them the truth, then we are doing them a disservice. Sometimes, you just have to break a few eggs to make an omelet…or something like that. I’m not much in the kitchen, so my cooking analogies may not be spot on. But you get the point, I’m sure. Sometimes people just get into a rut of unhappiness and they don’t even see that they have a problem. What you bring to their attention may be the exact thing they need to hear in order to begin breaking free from a stronghold.
The other part of achieving the balance, however; is to realize that the salt we throw is only useful if it is infused with light. The light of God’s love, working through us to get to those who need it. If we are just criticizing people and telling everyone what is wrong with them in the name of Jesus, then the reflection of Jesus that they are seeing is that He was critical and mean and basically unsatisfied with everyone He created. That is why it is so very important that when we attack sin through our posts on social media and elsewhere we take into consideration the balance of salt and light that we are putting out there. Sometimes what I see posted is simply salt. All hate…based on hating sin…but sadly misguided in its attempts to help people overcome the burdens this world is placing on them as they stumble along trying to find God’s hands to grab onto. Pictures of unborn babies, hateful speech and other tacky displays of Pharisaical standards of Godliness are not going to win any souls. Instead, these things just push the broken even further away and place obstacles in their path. There is a reason why we are told to love one another in John 13:34-35, for it is love that heals all wounds. And when we don’t have love for others, it is a sad reflection of the depth of our love and acceptance of Christ as our Savior. You may claim Him, but do you really love Him? If you are not loving your neighbor, then you are not loving Christ.
We all fall short of the glory of God, without a doubt. And we may never be able to be an accurate reflection of who He truly is. But He knows the hearts of those who are out to make a point versus those who truly want others to love Him for being their Almighty Savior, their Great Rock, their Awesome Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, our Strong Tower, our Healer, our Provider, our Protector, and our loving Father. He knows when the salt of our words is just salt. He knows when our aim is to hurt and not to heal. And He knows the depth of our brokenness when we can’t be light to others. Lucky for us, He loves us anyway. He is, as the verse goes in 1 Corinthians 13:4, patient and kind. The point of our salvation was not to bring us to stand a vigilant post on one side or the other, but to help us achieve the balance that lies in knowing God and living in His promises, receiving His love, and being able to give freely to others the gift that He freely gives us. No, we are not called to embrace evil, but we are called to understand how good evil can be once it allows God to heal it. For we are all evil at some level. We all have the sin nature and we all will sin. We are called to love the person and hate the sin; but we must understand that sin is part of the person and that we cannot effectively love the person if we are so focused on the sin that will fall away when the blood of Jesus is applied, that we spend all of our energy beating the person down to get them to receive the love. I realize that part might be a little confusing. Just let it sink in a minute. It makes sense.
We must accept that in order to love one another, we will need to understand that the sin nature is always present and that there is no one who lacks the capacity to sin. We can all fall down. Even the ones who seem to be standing the strongest. And we all deserve each other’s love and mercy. And not the watered down version we reserve for those who don’t quite meet our personal standards of a good person. God is the final judge and He calls us to love. When He calls you, will you be able to say that you’ve done as He asked?
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
~James 4:11 NKJV~