Throughout history salt has been a highly valued commodity. It’s only in recent times – since the invention of the refrigerator and Wegman’s – that we use salt only for the purpose of seasoning. We no longer need salt to prevent our Five Guy’s hamburgers from spoiling. But we do need salt for those fries.
Matthew 5:13 also reminds us that we “are the salt of the earth.”
Does that mean that we’re supposed to flavor the world? Well, yes, but let’s back up and cover a few other meanings before that. In the Bible days salt had many other uses in life that we are to still emulate in our own lives today.
First up – preservation.
Without salt food would spoil very, very quickly before refrigeration. It was a pretty simple method, the meat would be rinsed in water and then salt rubbed in to preserve it. Since moisture doesn’t do well with salt it keeps the meat from spoiling. Once ready to use the salt would be washed off.
In this way we too are to act as salt, by preserving those around us from “spoiling,” or in other words keep them from evil and corruption.
How? Teaching, and when necessary even admonishing.
We now live in a world of feelings. I feel this way about X and Y, therefore it must be true. I’m as guilty as the next.
However, instead of “affection” the word “love” has come to mean tolerance and complete acceptance – especially in relation to people’s lifestyles. If we affirm someone’s choices, we love them. If we disagree with them, we hate them.
This it not truth, though.
If I had a friend with a drug addiction should I be afraid to stand up to them and speak the truth about their harmful choices? Would you be? Or should we just look the other way instead, so as not to offend them? No and no. We would tell them what they were doing was wrong and we would try in to try to help them. That’s love. Now that’s an extreme example but the principles still apply.
The fact is we need more truth-tellers in the world -more people willing to use their salt to preserve the lives of those around them.
But we’re afraid to stick up for our beliefs anymore because we’ll likely be called a hater, or bigot.
Meanwhile, we let what other people say affect our ability to spread truth into their lives and possibly pave the way for the Holy Spirit to do His work. Someone needs to keep speaking truth to the world or it will be taken over by feelings and whims. Are you willing to use your salt to preserve people’s lives around you?
Second, salt heals.
“Like salt in a wound” is a statement meant to portray the sting one feels when salt is sprinkled on an open sore or wound. But WHY is salt poured on wounds? Because salt forces liquids out of our skin, taking any bad bacteria with it. While the truth may be a little stinging first, it brings healing after. So while it may be uncomfortable to speak truth into other people’s lives, we do so with the hope that God will bring healing through it.
Yes, family and friends may get mad at you, or avoid you for a while if you speak truth into their lives. Yes, it’s even possible to lose some friendships.
But let’s pretend you had a friend with a gaping cut and the only thing you had around to stop it from getting infected was salt. You know it is going to hurt the person, but the alternative is far worse. So you pour salt on it, bracing yourself that they will squirm and even cry out in pain but also knowing that their life will be saved in the process as well.
Healing can also mean being a listening ear to someone going through a tough time, or helping them seek much-needed treatment. Not only do I encourage you not to be afraid to pour salt on others, but to allow others to pour salt on you as well. Accept admonishment and accept healing.
In 2 Kings 2:21 says “Then he (Elisha) went to the spring and threw salt into it saying, “This is what the Lord says, “I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.” This was Elisha’s first miracle after taking the reins from Elijah who went straight to heaven in that fiery chariot (What a way to go!) God used a prophet – and salt – to bring healing to a land.
Lastly, salt was and is still used as seasoning.
Just the other day I made asparagus and after pulling them out of the oven I instantly knew they needed more salt. After a little sprinkle they were perfect – because salt helped bring out flavor in the asparagus.
- We are not only to preserve those around us from falling into evil, to bring healing to their lives, but we are also bring out their “flavor.”
- We are to have a positive influence on people.
- We are to be peacemakers.
- We are to be mediators.
- We are to love like Christ.
But – WARNING ALERT – we must make sure we have quality salt to start, and must make sure we use it judiciously.
First, let’s talk about the QUALITY of our salt.
“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 underfoot.” Matthew 5:13-16
So how would one lose their saltiness? By not walking with the Lord and instead, walking in our own wisdom. By judging other people on principles not found in the Bible. By being in discord with others around them. By being proud. I’m sure you can fill in a few more yourself…
Our salt is useless if we are not living a godly life ourselves.
Are we trying to pluck pieces of dirt out of other people’s eyes while knocking over the rest of the crowd with a plank in ours? So examine yourself first before heading into the world to salt it.
Second, too much salt can be a detriment to those around us too.
“The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur – nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.” Deuteronomy 29:23
Too much salt, or salt where it shouldn’t be literally prevents growth. So while we aim to live salty lives we need to temper the saltshaker with wisdom and prudence and godly guidance.
What can dumping too much salt look like?
Well a Facebook rant meant to tear people of different beliefs down instead of building up would probably be a good example. We’re convinced that if only we hit people over the heads with our Bible and holiness that it will knock some sense into them.
Hm, and when’s the last time that worked?
There is so much room for Christians to be more loving in our approaches to people – myself included. Instead of condemning certain groups of people we need to speak truth to them while simultaneously loving them.
Instead of condemning people for making what we view as a wrong choice, we need to come alongside them in their struggles, and offer truth IN love. I’d like to use this time to point out that though that we will only pour the right amount of salt without the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance. That’s the key that unlocks this whole saltiness thing.
The good news is the flip side is true too! If we continually walk with God, continually seek His council and wisdom then our salt will be quality, useful and appealing to others.
Are you ready to be worth your weight in salt? I sure am.