Take your Bible out and open it up to Matthew 5:3-10, and take a look at the Beatitudes.
Read Verses 3-6:
3-“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4-Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5-Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
OK, now draw a line between 6 and 7, and look at each half:
6-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7-Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8-Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9-Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10-Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Do you notice something similar? Do you notice something different? It’s like in verses 3-6, Jesus is talking to those who are persecuted, or without power – the poor, the meek, the oppressed, and in verses 7-10, He’s talking to those in power, but who also choose to rule with mercy, pure hearts, as peacemakers, and instead of going with the crowd of oppressors. Then verse 10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..”
I believe this is because Jesus was talking to not only those without power, but also to those with power. Remember, He was on the mountainside, and people of all ranks and status were present. Also, one of Herod’s officials (a woman, providing financial support for Jesus’ ministry) was one of His disciples; Matthew was previously a tax collector; Religious leaders were always hanging out with Jesus, and we know this because they’re always asking Him questions.
Isn’t it ironic, too, that at the end of chapter 5, Jesus talks about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you? Also, chapter 6 goes into telling us to focus on our works for God, not worrying about what others think of us. Plus the fact that he goes into the correct ways of following the Law. Jesus was talking to God’s people. (Now bringing in verses 13-16): YOU are the salt of the earth! (Don’t you know!? Remember!?) Salt stands out to all spices, and especially to sand. If you try to taste either one, you will immediately tell the difference. In the same way, God’s people (salt) are supposed to be distinctive to the rest of the world (sand). But if salt loses its saltiness, then it takes on the character of (or uselessness of, in terms of spice) sand. Though it may still be salt, its distinctiveness no longer exists, so it no longer stands out. Stop being like that – you were meant to be salt – so act like salt. (Don’t you know!? Remember?!)
You are the light of the “κοσμος” (creation, humankind, the universe)! A city on a hill can’t be hidden. And if you light a lamp, you don’t put a bucket over it, because the purpose of the light is to SHINE!!! You were created for, and called by, God. Therefore, shine! Stop covering up your light!
And as you are sure to shine, being distinctive among the sand as salt, you will be persecuted. But blessed are you when you are because in the same way, they (or their fathers, as said in Luke) persecuted the prophets. Jesus tells his followers all throughout His ministry that in the same way that He’s being persecuted, we will be also. The prophets were, Jesus was, His disciples were, everybody up to us was, we are (and will continue to be), and so will those after us. It’s guaranteed. But blessed are we when we are because we’re being insulted, falsely accused, lied about…for doing what God called us to do! (For Jesus’ sake).
Then verse 16: So let your light shine before others so that by your good works, (when they see you are truly from God), they will glorify YOUR Father in Heaven. Remember, people are persecuting you, insulting you, falsely accusing you, maybe even beating you because they don’t want to believe you are from God, or they fear you. But when others recognize you as salt and light, they will come to realize that what those others are saying about you cannot be true. And they will glorify God because of you.
Does all this contradict with chapter 6’s theme? No, for chapter 6 tells us not to show off our good deeds to people. What Jesus is saying above is that if we let our light shine, instead of cover it up, people won’t be able to help but see our good deeds. Also, as such, we’re not trying to show people what we do for God, in such a way to receive congratulations from people (as people in Chapter 6), but continuing our ministry for God even in the face of persecution.