Tag Archives: salt

Jules-Alexandre Grün - The End of Dinner, 1913

Luke 14 – Do What is Right Without Seeking Returns

In chapter 14 we begin with Jesus dining at the house of one of the Pharisees on the sabbath. While there he observes that one of the people is suffering from some sort of swelling. Jesus takes the opportunity to challenge the religious leaders with a question. He asks, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (v 3, NASB) While the answer would seem obvious to us, we need to remember laws and rules that had been set up surrounding the sabbath, even including how far you could walk on the sabbath. So you know they are torn. Their understanding of the law would have them say know, but to say yes was to say that caring for a sick person was not important. So, they simply remained silent. Jesus seized the opportunity and pointed out that they would help their own sons or their oxen if the fell in a whole and while that would be “work” it would be the right thing to do. And again, they remained silent.

Jesus then tells a parable about a dinner party. He begins by telling people that when they arrive they should not seek the place of honor. It might not be for them and it would be humiliating to be asked to move “down” in front of everyone. Rather he tells them that they should seek the lowest place, then if they are asked to move it will be up and they will be honored. He concludes by saying, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (v 11)

He continues the imagery of the dinner party by speaking of the host and saying not to invite friends, family, and wealthy neighbors. This seems an odd instruction from Jesus. Why should it matter about our relationship with those we invite. Jesus explains his reasoning by saying, “they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.” (v 12) His point is to do things without looking for reward or repayment. He says, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Vv 13 – 14)

Jesus continues his imagery of the dinner party with yet another parable. This time, the host has invited many people but when the time comes for the party, none of them will come. Instead, they all make excuses. The host becomes angry and has his servants “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” (v 21) When this does not fill the seats, he sends the servants even further out to do the same thing along the highways.  I believe the point of the parable is that those who do not respond to Christ call, will be shut out and instead, the call has been opened up to all who will respond.

For the final part of the chapter, we transition away from the dinner party image. Now Jesus says a peculiar thing. He says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (v 26) Is Jesus really saying that hating these people is necessary to follow him? I think what Jesus is using here an extreme to make his point. He is not saying to hate them, rather he is saying that if you truly follow him, then your relationships with others will seem like hate in comparison. This is not a new concept, it is an image that God himself used in the Old Testament when he says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Malachi 1:2 – 3)

He follows this immediately by saying, “ Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (v 27)  From here Jesus expounds upon needed to know the cost before beginning anything. And while we may not know the exact cost of following Christ, Jesus makes it very clear that it will be high, one way or another.

He concludes with the image of salt that has lost its saltiness. Salt is used for flavor and preservation and it represents the followers of Christ in the world. When we fail to count the cost, when we fail to take up our cross, and when we fail to make the needed sacrifices, we lose our saltiness in the world.

My takeaways from this passage are: 1) It is always lawful (right) to do good. 2) We are not to seek our own glory, but to take the humblest of positions. Let any honor we receive comes from God. 3) We do not do things, to be repaid but to serve those who are most needy. 4) God’s invitation is to all who will respond. 5) We are to love God totally and unconditionally, beyond any relationship we have on earth. 6) There will be a cost to following Christ. And 7) we are worthless if we are not willing to make sacrifices to serve God.

Rise Up

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

Words by William P. Merrill, 1911
Music by William H. Walter, 1872

 


“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.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13 – 16

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Luke 10:27


 

It’s an old idiom, “rise up.” To rise up means to come to the surface. It is what happens in a bucket of water when the water has been stirred. As the water comes to a stop, the lighter debris floats to the top. It separates to become evident. The phrase can also be applied to people. It describes the underlying thoughts of people coming to the surface. It is used to describe, taking part in a rebellion or to take a stance in support. The people rose up against the tyranny of the King, They stood up for what was right seeking to change the status quo. It is the meaning behind this idiom that we find presented in Wiliam P. Merrill’s “Rise up, O Men of God.”

The hymn begins, “Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength, To serve the King of Kings.” Here we find the phrase “rise up” applied to the people of God.  But what is it to which we are taking a stance of support and what in the world does,  “have done with lesser things mean”? The answer to both of these questions is found in the remainder of the this stanza.

Our stance of support is “to serve the King of Kings.”  This is not always an easy stance.  It is a stance that we take in the face of a culture that does not stand for God, but for its own selfish interest. We are called to rise up, to make a difference.  Matthew 5:13 – 16 tells us, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to rise up and impact the world around for God, that He might be glorified.

So what about, “have done with lesser things.” It is an odd phraseology, but the key to understanding it is found in the statement, “Give heart and mind and soul and strength.” You see, we might understand our call to “rise up” but how much do we put into it. Too often we find ourselves giving an  insufficient effort.  We split our energies between several things.  We go through the actions, with out the commitment.  We have not risen up, we have done with lesser things.  But we are to give our all in standing for Christ. This is the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us.  In Luke 10:27 we read, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.'”

Rising up to stand for God is not something for the timid or the faint of heart.  It for those who are willing to put themselves out on a limb. Those who are willing to risk everything for Him. For those who will give every last bit of their being to see the world changed for God. When we rise up we each serve our part to “bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.”

 

 

Read more about “Rise Up O Men of God.”