Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Sermon on the Mount for Parents: Salt and Light

Matthew 5-7 has always been one of my favorite Bible passages, and it really contains the core of my parenting philosophy: treating others as we would like to be treated.  The Beatitudes are a treasure trove of incredible parenting advice for me, but I'd like to make my way through the rest of chapter 5 and the following chapters, because there is so much richness in how we relate to our family members here.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:13-14 ESV

We are the salt in our family.  Salt is known for a couple of things: it gives flavor and preserves food.  Our attitude flavors our home.  My kidlets are Betazoids when it comes to picking up on my emotions, and if things start to spiral, I am never successful at helping them get back on track until I have dealt with my own attitude first.  
Salt Crystals
Image credit: Dawn Endico on Flickr

Are we allowing the things that should be nurturing our family to spoil?  This can apply to so many things, but my first thought was, "Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt."  Our words can bring life giving flavor or rottenness and decay.  And it isn't always the words themselves, but the flavor that surrounds them.  Sometimes my words are fine, but the expression on my face and my tone of voice are poison, and it spoils any good that my words might have given.

Lights allow others to see where they are going.  The Proverbs verses that have been twisted to seem as if they promote spanking can mean the presence of the parents being like a sun that beats down on their children, providing light and warmth and a constant presence.  

Another thing that comes to mind when talking about night lights and children is helping them not to be afraid.  I don't ever want my children to be scared of me, or to feel as though they have to hide.  "Hiding my light" could also mean deliberately taking away the things that help them to feel safe and secure, not giving them the direction that they need or denying them my presence and comfort.  

Ironically, so many Christian authors want parents to hide their light from their children.  They want kids to be afraid to come to their parents, whether it is tinies crying alone at night or older kids who make mistakes and know that there will be "consequences".  That is not the way of Jesus, the light of the world, who promised never to leave us or forsake us, the one whose kindness leads us to repentance.  
an Orthodox book cover
Image credit: Violette79 on Flickr

I am sure that there are many things that Jesus meant when He called us to be salt and light to our children, but they have an important attribute in common: they make life more pleasant, delicious, and nurturing, by their presence.  They protect us.  I want my kidlets to want me to be around, to feel happy and secure because I am in their lives.  I want to be salt and light, and glorify our Father in heaven.

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