Who does not like receiving a compliment? Compliments make us feel needed, noticed or important. At the same time, there are other sides to receiving a compliment. Perhaps we are embarrassed because we think we do not deserve it. Or maybe we feel dishonest because our sense is that we faked something and got away with it. Most significantly, receiving a compliment may make us uncomfortable because we now carry the responsibility of living up to it.
In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a wonderful compliment. He says we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Saying we are light means in the eyes of Jesus, we bring brightness to a world where there is gloom and doom.Calling us salt means we spice things up. It matters that we are around. Like salt on food, we notice if it is there and we know when it is missing.
What will we do with this marvelous compliment Jesus has given to us? The first thing is to accept it and not shrug it off. Believe that it really does matter that we are around. Our importance to God and to the world is not to be underestimated.Many of the good things that could happen to build a better world do not happen because we undervalue ourselves. When compliments confront us with our best qualities, we can tend to write them off saying, “Well if you really knew me… ”We have not fooled Jesus. What is loveable to Jesus is our true selves. It is the real us that Jesus calls salt and light. Jesus does not sell us short, neither should we.
Perhaps the most difficult thing of all in accepting Jesus’ compliment is living up to it. As light, we are to look for opportunities every day to bring the light of honesty instead of deception, the light of constructive words instead of sarcasm. When confronted with difficult situations in our lives, we choose to face them from a place of hope rather than from discouragement. When we feel powerless, we acknowledge our powerlessness and let our lives rest on the power of God in whom we believe (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
Salt of the earth, light of the world! We have been given a great compliment. Now, let’s accept it.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector