Example to Others

Sermon on the Mount: Instructions for Life

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Jesus used three analogies to emphasize the fact that we are to be examples to others. First, He said that we are “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt is a preservative. Of course, this does not mean that if we can increase the number of righteous people in the world, then God’s judgment will be delayed. Paul told the Athenians that God has “fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Instead, we act as a “preservative” in that by living righteously, we are preserving what is good and right on the earth. By our righteous example, we are showing others what is right and encouraging them by our influence to be good as well.

Second, Jesus said we are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Light is important because it shows the way. The psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Again, by our example as we are directed by the word of God, we are showing others the way that they should go. Paul encouraged the brethren in Philippi to be different from the world: “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Jesus explained the clear and unmistakable difference between right (light) and wrong (darkness): “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20). Those who do right – as long as they do not compromise – will not blend in with those who do wrong. By our actions, we highlight the contrast between right and wrong.

Third, Jesus described His disciples as “a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14). This means we are highly visible, emphasizing again our example. Not only is a city on a hill highly visible, but it is also in a position of strength. The wise man wrote, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). Those who are righteous have the strength of God to protect them. We are to live righteously because we trust in God to save us.

Our righteousness should be visible to others. Jesus said that others should “see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We are to be an example to others in all that we do. The way we do this is through righteous living.


The above post is an excerpt from the book, Sermon on the Mount: Instructions for Life. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

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