I have been reading the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew. I have read these passage hundreds of times in the past and over the last six months have worked through it with a friend.
I have been struck by the verse in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “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 by men.”
I have read or heard information about what this verse actually means from a variety of sources.
I have been told that in this verse “salt” is being referenced for its use in preserving food. I get it. As Christians, we are to be preserving any of number things including the earth, God’s Word, and our Christian witness. I am aware that salt also has medicinal uses. The mandate to bring God’s healing to others is shared by all Christians. I see healing needed in the broken lives of my family, my friends, my church, the acquaintances I make in my community, and myself. Christians can and should be agents of spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational healing.
I don’t disagree with any of these interpretations, but I was not ready to settle the issue in my mind or heart. So I went about doing some research into “salt” and reading the passage in other translations and paraphrases.
I found that salt was reportedly discovered by the Chinese some 4700 years ago. It has been used as money down through history by several people groups. In several religions, it has been used as a symbol of “purity.” I like this idea. Salt has been a huge part of history from Egypt during the time of the Exodus to the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Salt is also an important part of chemical production, an essential nutrient for life, and has important commercial uses, such as in roadway safety and water conditioning.
But when it comes to salt, you and I are more familiar with it being a substance that brings out the flavor in food. Now, there is a group who would disagree with my last statement and claim that salt only covers up the real taste of food, but I must respectfully disagree with them, and then in all love dismiss them; for it is the idea of bringing out the full flavor of food that I think the verse is about.
Let’s read the same verse again, but from the Message: “Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” Did you see that? As salt, we are to bring out the God-flavors of this earth. Now there is something to ponder.
What does that mean? What does it look like? How do I do this?
If salt brings out the full flavor of food, then you and I are called to bring out the full flavor of life as God created it. I believe this means that wherever I am and whenever I happen to be there I am to proclaim God’s truth, purpose, and pleasure. This might happen on a walk, in my car, at work, with my family, at church, or at my coffee shop.
It is living in a manner that pulls out of life’s work, play, intimacy, struggles, and joy and sorrow, the fact that all of life is God-centered. It is living true to God’s Word. It is encouraging others. It is doing right - even when it hurts. It is sensing God’s presence when the leaves change, the snow is falling, or as children are at play, and then telling others so they, too, can experience God. It is discerning God’s truth even in the “secular” and sharing with others your discovery. It is choosing to speak out of love, but listening even to the most profane, sensing the brokenness of a heart - the kind of broken only God can fix. It is rejoicing in life and our hope in Christ, being patient in all things and knowing our need for Christ. It is living with a mindset to love God with our hearts, minds, soul and strength and love others the same way. It is letting your ‘light” shine for all to see that they may praise our God.
Are you bringing out the God-flavors of the world? Will you stop long enough to even consider the question? Salt is what we are called to be. We can be the seasoning in this world that brings out the richness of God. The other option is to be salt that has lost its ability to season. There’s not much to do with unusable salt.
Dear Father, may I be salt. Wherever I go may my life reveal who You are. May others respond to Your life through me. Let the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that pours from my life draw people to You.
Taking the lid off my salt shaker…