You are the salt of the earth


#13 in the Sermon on the Mount series

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (NASB)

The Quality of the Salt

To understand what Jesus is saying here, it is important to think about the three effects that salt has:

  1. Salt makes a person thirsty
  2. Adds flavor
  3. Works as a preservative; it fights decay.

Salt Shaker

The quality of the salt is measured by how many impurities it contains. To be useful, the salt must remain pure. At some point when there are more impurities than salt, the salt becomes plain old dirt. To function as salt in society, we need to be men and women of integrity to provide benefit to the people around us.

Creating Thirst

We are to live our lives in a way that makes people thirsty for what we have. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we should always be ready to give an answer to those who ask us about our hope. On the basis of how we live, we gain credibility for our claims about a relationship with Jesus. This does imply that we are living in such a way that people notice.

Adding Flavor

We are not called to be boring, insipid do-nothings. We are called to abundant life (John 10:10). Parts of the church have become known more for what they don’t do than what they do. Granted, there are activities that are inappropriate for Christians and we need to have clear boundaries around these things. But we have the freedom to do so much and there are so many legitimate ways to enjoy the creation that God has given us. Our faith should enhance the enjoyment of life rather than detract from it.

Being a Preservative

By living rightly before God, we can function as a preservative in the society around us. Consider for a moment the impact that William Wilberforce had on society by leading the way toward the end of slavery. Society was enhanced and preserved by Mr. Wilberforce’s actions even if the society at large may not understand or relate to the motivation behind the actions. We can and should have an impact for the good of the society at large.

Two More Observations

First, for Salt to be accomplishing all of these things, it must come out of the shaker, box or bowl in which it is stored. You can read more about this idea in Rebecca Manly Pippert’s book entitled Out of the Salt Shaker.

To be effective, salt must be dissolved in or sprinkled on top of the food. It does nothing unless it is comingled with the dish it is to season. In other words salt must become part of the environment to do its job. It can’t stay bottled up. In the same way, we Christians can’t just wall ourselves into the church and hope that people come to us. We need to be out living as part of the community.

The other thing to keep in mind about salt is that salt flavors the meal, it is not the meal itself. Too often, we Christians get so caught up in the organization and activities of church that it is possible to lose sight of our main purpose. The focus should never be on the salt; the focus should never be on the church, it should be on Jesus Christ. The church organization is a tool to bring people to Christ. The organization is a means, not an end.

If we keep our mission in mind and strive to be obedient to God in our thoughts, words and actions, we can be used by God to make people thirsty for Jesus, enhance the beauty of the world around us and improve our society.