Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 1
Today, I'm starting this eight-part series. I'm calling it, "Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You". The beatitudes are basically a superstructure. It is a step by step program that Jesus has given us. You can't just skip one step and go to the next one. You have to go step by step by step. They're designed that way by our Lord, our Maker, our Creator, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Until you reach the pinnacle, until you reach the top, until you get to the apex, where the greatest privilege, the greatest joy is to be insulted and persecuted for the sake of Jesus. And right at that point, when you reach the top of that superstructure, our Lord Jesus Christ says, "As you climb up and you get to the top," immediately, immediately he goes on to say, "now this is how you appropriate all of these blessings, all of the peace, all of the joy, all of the happiness. This is how you appropriate the impact that comes from reaching the top of that ladder".
And that is why Jesus waits until after the eight steps, then he says, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world". He doesn't start with being salt and light. No, that would be like putting the cart before the horse. So, he starts with the horse, then he places the cart. Turn with me, if you haven't already, Matthew 5:13. "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 by men". In ancient time, you have to understand that salt was so highly valued. Unlike what we have today and the salt sitting in this shining silver shaker on your table whom your doctor tells you to avoid. Salt was extremely valuable. Back then, salt and light were not just commodities people took for granted. No, salt back then was so valuable that Roman soldiers were given their wages with salt.
As a matter of fact, they demanded it, and they revolted if they did not get their fair share of salt, of the ration of salt. In fact, the English word "salary" comes from the word "salt". That's where it came from because they paid their salaries with salt. And that's why we have saying like, "He's not worth his salt". It's not worth his salary that he makes. Hear me right, please. On this day of salt-free salt, I know it's really difficult to comprehend the incredible value that our Lord Jesus Christ is placing on this statement. The Greek word for salt is divine. The Roman used to say there is nothing more useful in the world than salt and light. So, please, please, please, I want you to place yourself among those people who are listening to Jesus, calling them you are the salt of the earth. Place yourself there. You are the light of the world. It must have been so overwhelming. It must have been so just incomprehensible to realize that their mission in life is of such value, huge value.
Now, in this message, of course, I'm gonna focus on salt. In next message, I'll do the light. But if you really understand that in the times of Jesus and you reflect on what he said, you are bound to ask yourself some questions. How can that be? We're a bunch of workers and fishermen, and we're the salt of the whole earth? They were not theologians with PhDs, they were not company CEOs, they were not computer wizzes, they were not corporate executives with MBAs, no. And yet, these people to whom Jesus is speaking, their greatest asset is their spiritual bankruptcy. Their greatest passion was mourning over their sin. Their greatest accomplishment is to be meek. Their best response is to be merciful and be peacemakers. Their best appetite should be for righteousness. Their greatest weapon is to come clean with God on a regular basis and be pure in heart, as we saw in this series of messages. And then their greatest privilege, think about this, their greatest privilege is to be insulted for Jesus's sake. That's what he's saying here.
How in the world could this motley crew, with this set of character traits, be the most valuable thing in the world? They're the most valuable. In fact, back then, salt and gold was on equal value. So, question, how can we be salt to a sophisticated world? How can we be salt to the professors of evolution? How can we be salt to people who are filled with pride, pride of their own ideas and philosophies, pride of their own technological advancement? Here in Matthew 5, you see that these simple men and women, empowered by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, it was said of them by historians, Jewish, pagan, Christian historians at the time, that they have turned their world upside down. The reason they were able to appropriate the happiness within that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. They took every one of those steps and reached the summit, and that is why now they are the salt of the earth.
Now beloved, today, we may have lots of knowledge, and we do, but we have very little wisdom, very little wisdom. We may have lots of knowledge, but we have no peace of mind. We may have lots of knowledge and scientific advancement, but we don't have contentment and joy. Today, we may have reached the moon, but we can't stop the senseless violence on our streets. Today, we may be able to communicate with the speed of light, but we cannot halt drug addiction. And that is why this is the time for all who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ to know how to appropriate the rightful place of being salt of the earth. I'm not speaking to churchgoers, I'm not speaking to pew warmers, and I'm not speaking to Sunday Christians only. I'm not speaking to online Christians only, I am not speaking to those who are professing Christians only. I am speaking to all who have climbed the Mount of Beatitudes.
Question, what is the assumption here in these magnificent words that is beyond comprehension? First of all, you need to know that that time, salt was used for lots of things. It really was. Has many, many uses. I already told you how valuable it was. And I'm going to actually recite some of the common use back then. Salt was used for healing. Salt was used as a cleansing agent. It was used for removal of stains. It was used to melt ice. It was used to keep a foot from slipping on ice. It was used to stop bleeding. It was used to get rid of unpleasant odor. It was used to whiten clothes. It was used to make food tasty. It was used as an antiseptic. Above all, it was used to keep food, particularly meat and fish, from rotting.
Please hear me right. The most desperate need we have today is for men and women, boys and girls who are actually the disciples of Jesus to go out and be salt and be light. In other words, they are to listen to the words of Jesus and to realize that Jesus has placed you where he has placed you, then gave you that incredible call on your life. They are to take seriously God's call to be salt in life. Listen, 20 or 30 years ago, we would never have tolerated the rottenness that we now accept. Well, yeah, what can we do? Why? 'Cause a lot of salt has lost its saltness. I'm gonna come back to this. I told you the common uses at the time, now I'm gonna give you what the Bible said.
Leviticus, Leviticus chapter 2, verse 13, it was a symbol of binding contracts. In fact, to this day, there are certain parts of the Middle East where, when they have a contract or they're being reconciled to each other, they go out and they bring a plate of salt, and they bring bread, and both parties would dip their bread in the salt, and they eat it. It's a mark that they are solidifying that contract, that binding agreement. In 2 Kings 2, that's the second one, 2 Kings 2:20, salt heals and as a cleansing agent. In Mark 9:50, salt is a promoter of peace. In Colossians 4:6, it is evidence of grace. In Job 6:6, it's a stimulant to appetites. And in Luke 14:34, it is a stimulant to our testimony. And in here, Matthew 5:13, it prevents decay and rotting. In fact, these pronouns that the Lord Jesus uses here, these pronouns in verses 13 and 14 are in the emphatic mood.
You say, "What does that mean"? It means that you don't have a choice if you're a disciple of Jesus. It is not you can be a salt if you want to, or you can be salt and light if you feel like it. No, no, no, no, you are salt whether you know it or not. You are salt, and you are extremely valuable in the sight of God, even if it's not being in the sight of the world. You are salt, and so add divine flavor wherever you go, wherever you go. We who are disciples of Jesus, wherever we go, we are to keep culture from rotting. Wherever we are. And that is why in 2 Corinthians, Paul said that believers are an aroma from life to life, a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved, but also an aroma of death to death among those who are perishing. But also we know that salt stings when it gets into a wound, right? Stings.
See, a surgeon has to hurt you before he can heal you. He has to cut you before he can sew you together again. And we, by our very presence, by our very presence, by our very hunger for righteousness, by all the eight things that we saw by just our very presence, we are a rebuke and a judgement to a rotting culture. But instead, now we have preachers who are soothing the rotting of culture. And they said, "Well, it's a different day. It's a new day. Things are accepted now. It's a choice". We have ceased to sting or rebuke, lives. Not only that, but as salt we're to create thirst for God, create thirst for God. Just as salt creates thirst for water, we are to create thirst. People want to know God because they've seen us, and they've seen our lives, and they've seen our joy, and they've seen our celebration of who he is and who we are in him. And I'm told that without the proper percentage of salt in the body, it dehydrates and dies.
Every one of those categories, the use of salt are all fine, every one of them. I'm not undermining a single one of them. To represent purity, great. To add taste, it's wonderful. To stand for the truth even if it stings, yes. It creates thirst for God, by all means. But I believe beyond all that, Jesus is saying something far bigger, far more important to his disciples and to his hearers. He is saying you are a preservative that keep the world from rotting and coming completely under the evil one. And beloved, listen to me, that is why I believe when we are out of here, when we're lifted up from here, this earth is gonna be hell on earth. Were it not for the Holy Spirit who indwells the believers today and the disciples of Jesus Christ, Satan would've been running far more wild than you can imagine.
You say, "Can it get worse than that"? Oh, that's nothing. That's a Sunday school picnic in comparison. Hear me right, please. See, for now, for now, total control of evil and wickedness has been restrained, it really has. And why it's been restrained, because of the Holy Spirit that dwells in the believers. I know there are faithful people all over this country who are on their knees, are praying for this country. There are people who are doing, and serving, and giving, and sacrificing. And they're the ones who are preserving it from going down to total chaos. Because if you think it's bad now, just wait until the believers are taken out of here. But until that day comes, you and I are to serve as lump of salt between the fish to keep it from rotting. That is the rotting fish in your neighborhood, that is the rotting fish in your campus, that is the rotting fish in your office, that's the rotting fish in our society. They all need to know that Jesus and Jesus alone saves. Don't ever forget that we too once were rotting fish.
Some salt came into our life and brought us the life-giving Word. Listen to me. You might be the only salt that they will ever experience. Beloved, do not get sidetracked by issues. May I plead with you? Don't get sidetracked by the issues. Don't fall for that, why? Because all of these issues can only be solved when people come to Jesus, when they turn to Christ. I come now to the most solemn part of this verse. That is the loss of saltiness, the loss of saltiness. Perhaps I fear this more than anything else in life, including life itself. I could lose money, prestige, reputation, and even life itself. Oh, but please God, not my saltness. Why am I saying this? First of all, Jesus is not talking about losing your salvation. He's talking about losing your effectiveness, losing your fruitfulness for him.
Now, I'm told that sodium chloride is a very stable chemical compound. It's out of my paygrade, but I trust the people who told me that. It's a very stable compound. That means that it resists any attack from the outside. The only thing that will weaken its effectiveness is when it's mixed with contaminants, mixed with contaminants. Think about this, think about this for a long time. The only thing that will weaken your effectiveness is when it is mixed with other contaminants of the world. The only thing that will weaken its effectiveness is when it is contaminated with impurities. Then and only then becomes useless. You can't use it as a fertilizer because it would kill the plant. And the only thing back then they did was salt that lost its saltness is they tossed it on the street. Didn't have asphalt like we do to pave the roads. But they took the salt that lost its saltness, and they pour it on the road so the footprint of people and animals compounded and make it hard.
That's what Jesus said here. It's good for nothing else except to be tossed out. Please hear me right. Every one of us, including your pastor, are in danger of losing our effectiveness for Christ. Every one of us. Every one of us is in danger of losing our influence for God. My beloved, you have to understand that our impact for Christ in our society, in our culture is not dependent on your IQ, is not dependent on your level of intelligence, it's not dependent on your ability to articulate the message, it's not dependent on your seeking to be liked and accepted. No, no, no, no, our impact is dependent on being distinct from the non-believers. Our impact is dependent on being in the world, but not of the world. Being in the world, but not imitators of the world.
I want to tell you this as I conclude. In certain segment of the Jewish community, in fact the ultraorthodox, very small segment of Judaism, they have this practice when a person becomes an apostate, that is turn his back on the Jewish faith. And then he repents and wants to come back into the synagogue. They would ask him to lay across the door of the synagogue, by the door, and invite people to trample upon him as they enter. And his invitation says, "Trample upon me who once was salt, but lost my saltness". Thank God we live in the New Testament. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for his grace. And you can literally come to him any moment and say, "Lord, I want you to restore my saltness". And he will do it because he and his will is for you to be salt of the earth. And then you can become a world changer, truly changing the world. Are you ready to change the world? I think I'm safe in saying just about everybody in this room would say, "I want to be a world changer".