13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
Matthew 5:13 (CSB)
One of my favorite dishes is grits. To those who may not know what that is I will refer you to THIS. I admit, that page doesn’t necessarily make is sound appetizing so you will just have to trust. The thing about grits is that they are actually bland until you season them. My personal choice is to use real butter, cheddar cheese, black pepper, and salt. I will eat them without the cheese but the butter, pepper, and salt is pretty much required. I very rarely cook with salt so it has to be added to whatever I serve. With grits you have to be very careful. If you put too much salt then they are ruined and completely inedible. When I was younger I put way too much salt on them. I also put too much salt on my French fries. As I’ve gotten older my taste for salt has changed. I now find that I want less salt on things and most of the time I feel like people have put too much. Most fast food fries are so salty that I can barely eat them. If I do then I know I am going to have to drink twice as much soda or water to get through them. I mention all of that to point out that salt can be very important and can affect things either for the good or for the bad.
This snippet from Scripture is taken from a passage commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. It is found in Matthew’s gospel . Luke’s gospel records a similar teaching.
34 “Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty? 35 It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it out. Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.”
Luke 14:34-35 (CSB)
In both cases Jesus is talking about what it means to be one of his disciples. I believe the core teaching is that we (as followers) are supposed to be making a positive impact on the world around us. Many people throughout the ages have made suggestions as to what Jesus exactly meant when he told his listeners that they were the salt of the earth. Salt is used in the Bible as a preservative, a seasoning, and as part of offerings made to God. Given the context, Jesus could possibly be referencing the first two.
In the days before refrigeration, salt was used to preserve certain meats. It is still used for that today. You can still get ham, bacon, and fish that has been salted. I have already mentioned how I like to add salt to my grits to make them tastier. Some foods need a bit of sodium chloride to enhance the flavor. In the Old Testament you see salt added to the grain offerings (Leviticus 2:13), the burnt offerings (Ezekiel 43:24), and the sacred incense (Exodus 30:34). Salt was something that that people were very familiar with.
From a devotional viewpoint, I can definitely see how the first two could apply. We are supposed to go out into the word and share the gospel of Jesus. That has the power to save (preserve) them for all eternity. We are also supposed to live in such a way that we make the world a better place. Others have even suggested another result of using salt: It makes you thirsty. I have already alluded to that by sharing how most fast food fries (McDonald’s is especially guilty) are so salty that it requires me to drink more to wash them down. I’m not sure that Jesus meant that but it is an interesting take on it. If we are going out into the world and living the way we’re supposed to, it should make others want the same thing we have.
I think the key to both of these passages is the warning about salt losing its saltiness. I have never put this to a scientific test but I have been told that salt really does not lose its taste. Supposedly, the only thing that robs salt of its saltiness is exposure to other things such as water, air, and contaminants. I have thrown out many old salt shakers that sat around and ended up being useless. I have accidentally spilled things into open containers of salt and had to toss it all out. We can do the same thing in our lives. We can sit around and do nothing until we are useless and we can let the things of this world contaminate us. Either way, we lose our effectiveness and we are no good.
It’s such a simple teaching but it is one the continually challenges and inspires me. Am I living in such a way that I’m making the world a better place? Am I sharing the gospel of Jesus so that people will know the way to salvation? Am I making people thirsty for Jesus by the things I do and say? More importantly, am I letting things contaminate me and ruin my effectiveness. I pray that this inspires you to ask the same questions of yourself.
Grace and peace.