It is easy to believe that we are the primary beneficiaries of our good behavior and the main victims of our bad or unhealthy choices. In fact, in the list of “blessed are the…” that immediately precedes this passage (Matt. 5:3-12), it would seem that the reward for a pious life is direct, personal, and individual. But then the teaching culminates in Jesus’ telling his hearers that the ultimate goal of their righteousness is that the world will see and know God and be better off for it.
It’s true that there are direct benefits to following Christ, but our faith is not a selfish faith. We must always remember that every word we say, every action we do, even those we think are small and insignificant, affect the lives of others.
This is sometimes helpful to me when facing temptation. When I think only of how it could hurt me, it can be easy to justify giving in to the temptation. When I take a moment, though, to consider how it could affect my ministry, my witness to God, and my future potential to bring others to Christ, it gives me further pause.
What an awesome responsibility God has given us. It is not something to take lightly. But how exciting and fun it is when we actually live into our calling to be the salt and light of the earth. There are few greater joys.