In Deuteronomy 7 as God is reminding Israel of their covenant relationship – that He has chosen them of His own divine will and made them His own – that He redeemed them, rescued them, and has blessed them – that He is a faithful and just God … He warns them to cleanse the land of the pagans who are an abomination to Him and have rejected Him and serve false gods. One statement in particular stands out to me: “Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.” (v16)
In having compassion on those mired in the depths of sin, we need to be wary of being ensnared directly in their sin or even, through the best of human intentions, being more concerned about their feelings than the state of their soul. In directly evangelizing with the Word of the Gospel for the salvation of the soul, so long as that is preeminent, there can be much less likelihood of this trap. However, when a social gospel takes precedence … when social justice and caring for the physical or emotional aspects of the individual gain priority over the salvation of the soul, we begin to lower our defenses.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns of maintaining this spiritual effectiveness.
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. (Matt 5:13-16)
Sadly, in Revelation we see an example of a church that has lost its saltiness … whose light is fading into the darkness around it.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 3:1–6)
We must live out the salvation placed within us and do so in the midst of a lost and broken world. We must let the Light of Divine Love shine through us. Indeed, we must love the whole person as God does. But we must be ever diligent, in humble obedience to the Spirit, to never let our saltiness be overcome with worldliness. May our reputation – we who bear the name of Christ – be that we are alive in Him … and may His knowledge of our souls bear witness to the same.