The Generosity Habit
Discover an idea that has the power to inject your life with limitless meaning and purpose—and transform the world.
February 5, 2023
Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."
How to Actually Be The Light of The World
Welcome to Feed Your Soul. I'm Matthew Kelly. This Sunday, we got a short reading. It's four verses. It is the reading I have probably heard more in my life than any other reading. At the end of this reading, we find a phrase that was the motto at my high school. So we used to hear this reading over and over and over and over again in high school. Here it is. It's from Matthew 5:13-16, "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. The city set on a hill cannot be hid, nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Therefore, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven." Four verses, but as always, there's just so much here. The first word, you are the salt of the earth, not somebody else, not many other people. You are the salt of the earth. And I think very often in these readings, it's easy for us to abdicate responsibility. It's easy for us to say, "Oh, that? Someone else will take care of that," or, "that's for another group of people." It's easy to exclude ourselves from the call, from the challenge, and even from the encouragement of the scriptures. But what do we read here? You are the salt of the earth. And if you lose your taste, essentially you become useless, and in many ways worthless is what the reading says.
Why does Jesus use salt? Why does he choose salt? Because you can't live without it. Without a certain amount of salt - I think it's about 500 milligrams a day - there are certain vital functions in the human being that begin to shut down. You need salt to live. And so that's why Jesus chooses salt. That's why he chooses light. He's always speaking directly into the very realities of people's lives. He's not talking off here about theoretical ideas. And they knew the need for salt. And it was much harder for them to obtain salt than it is for you and I to find a new salt today. And so we see these five points. Number one, it's you. It's not someone else. Number two, it's light. What are you doing to increase your light? Is there more light in you today than there was yesterday? Is there more light in you this week than there was last week? Is there more light in you this year than there was last year? And of course, the flip side of that is, what are you doing to darken yourself? What are you doing to cast a shadow over yourself, to cast a shadow over your soul, to darken your heart? Because the reality is we do things every day that increase our light. And we do things every day that increase our darkness, that cast these shadows over heart, mind, and soul. What are you going to do today to increase your light? And I think the first thing is to recognize, "Okay, is there more light in me today than yesterday? Is there more today than a week ago, a year ago, a month ago?" The fourth point is the challenge to share the light. So it's not just, "You are the light of the world. Have fun with that." Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but they put it on the stand and it gives light to all in the house. How are you sharing your light? How are you sharing your light? There's so many ways to share our light: share our light with kindness, share our light with generosity, share our light with encouragement, with appreciation. But I think that kindness is a good one to think about. I was talking to a young person a couple of weeks ago and and she asked me, she's dating and she's trying to work out, "Okay, how do I choose who to spend my life with?" And she's like, "What are the key things?" And there's like 100, right? Anyone could answer the question with 15 different things. But I said to her, "At the end of the day, it's fairly easy to be a good partner when things are going well." It's when things turn for the worst that being a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, a wife, that's when that gets tested. And what I said to her was that I believe at the end, every relationship comes down to kindness. And to ask yourself, "Okay, what is your reservoir of kindness? What is the reservoir, the capacity of kindness of this other person that you're thinking about spending your life with?"
Because sooner or later, the good times do fade away. They may come back, but before they come back, there are difficult times. And we do get older. And at the end of the day, all relationships come down to kindness or lack thereof. And so, one of the ways we can increase our light, one of the ways we can share our light is by expanding our kindness. By growing our kindness. And then the fifth point, and this was my school motto, let your light shine. Let your light shine. I think that's becoming increasingly difficult for people in our society because people are afraid of everything. Because there's trigger warnings on everything. You say the wrong thing in the wrong tone or the right thing in the wrong tone, you could be canceled, completely misunderstood. We live in a culture now of no mercy, no forgiveness. People are just done with each other. If someone says one wrong thing or does one wrong thing. And so, I think that that makes us hesitant to let our light shine. That makes us hesitant to stand up and share our light with the world. And of course, that is the very intention of that kind of dark and depraved culture. That's the intention of it, is to get good people to sit down and shut up. Is to get good people to hide their light under a bushel. So this Sunday, the challenge to let your light shine. How are you going to let your light shine today?
How are you going to let your light shine, grow the light within you so that a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, we ask the question, "Is the light within you greater today than it was a day ago, a week ago, a month ago, a year ago?" so that you are absolutely certain that it is? How are you going to grow that light within you.
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