Saturday 30 March 2024

The salt of the earth

Christians should not shy away from speaking the truth even if it stings. Sometimes people need it to make them think more deeply about their lives
My mother always used to put a very moderate amount of salt in our vegetables and always discouraged us from putting extra salt from the salt shaker onto our food, like so many of my friends did. However, on the odd occasion she did forget to add it, we would moan profusely. It just wasn’t the same. The thing is, we never know the true value of salt until it is not there.

I have read that there are more than14,000 different ways that salt is used. It is used in the manufacture of plastics, paper, glass, fertilizers, household cleaners, to name but a few. In ancient times it was valued greatly by the Chinese, Arabs, Romans and Greeks. Indeed the word ‘salary’ comes from the fact that Roman soldiers were often paid in salt. 

Salt is mentioned numerous times in the bible. It was used as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a part of ceremonial offerings, in making covenants and as a means of trading and bartering.

For example, in Leviticus 2:13 it says: Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings

Likewise in Numbers 18:19 it says: Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.

In three out of the four gospels, Jesus told his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth”. What a great way of emphasising the importance, versatility and purpose God’s people are to the world. Salt had and has such great value that using this phrase affirmed to the disciples their great worth. These uncultured, uneducated men who were probably overlooked by society and here we have the Lord telling them that they were this valuable commodity. It affirmed the fact that through the way they lived their lives they were going to make the world a better place. 

The ‘you’ in this passage is plural, so we can safely say that true believers in Jesus Christ are the salt of the earth. But salt is useless unless it touches what it is meant to season. If it stays in the salt pot it does no good at all. Similarly, if Christians who are called to be the salt of the earth remain in the salt pot, ie. in their holy huddles, in their churches, what impact do they have in the society? Only when they go out and connect with people, share the gospel and show love and kindness in practical and relevant ways can they really make a difference.

Salt permeates and penetrates that which it touches. I learned the other day that only 3.5% of the ocean is salt but just take a mouthful of sea water while you are swimming and I am sure you will agree, it tastes a lot saltier than that! Just a small amount of salt goes a long way. Just little acts of kindness can have a huge effect on the recipients. 

Salt makes you thirsty. All public houses promote the sale of crisps, peanuts, pork scratchings and other delectations covered in salt, so that they can get people thirsty. The late Pentecostal preacher David du Plessis was once approached by a Christian who complained that people didn’t seem thirsty for the Lord these days. Du Plessis replied, “It’s not that they are not thirsty enough. It’s that we are not salty enough!”

Salt stings when put on a wound. Christians should not shy away from speaking the truth even if it stings. Sometimes people need it to make them think more deeply about their lives.
Purity is one of the Biblical meanings of salt. e.g. in Exodus 30:35 “seasoned with salt” makes the sacrifice “pure and holy.” This is also echoed by St. Paul when he says in Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” In Proverbs 18:21 it says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” There is so much harshness and derogatory speech these days, especially with the increase of social media, so we as Christians are called not to join in and fuel the fire of these hate-ridden dialogues but to have gracious, kind and wholesome conversation.

Going back to the original conversation Jesus is having with his disciples about them being the salt of the earth, he then adds: “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

It is hard for salt in itself to lose its saltiness but when it is mixed in with other substances it is useless. Apparently, in the days when salt was really valuable, merchants would mix the salt with fine sand to make it go further and make more money. If we mix in with the world and become so much part of it that the difference is unrecognisable then we are going to be useless ‘no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men’

We have to make sure our salt does not lose its effectiveness! We have to remain salty! How do we do that? We present ourselves regularly before the Salt maker. We need to confess everything and experience His cleansing. Only the blood of Jesus can take away the impurities in our salt.

In these days there is more rebellion against God. Morality is declining in our times rapidly. As a result, people are hurting themselves and each other. We must remain salty because God puts people in our path so that our salt can be added, penetrate, and permeate when we meet someone in need.

We must remember that it is not our salt but God’s Salt. God decides how much salt is to be used how and when and on whom it is to be used. He is the one making it work we are just His instruments using His salt for His glory. What a privilege!! So may we let God work in us, and empower us by His Holy Spirit to be salty witnesses in our communities and our areas of influence.

Author: Thelma Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

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