Matthew 5:13 “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be trodden under foot of men.”
Jesus addressed a great multitude from the mountain in a sermon we commonly refer to as “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this discourse to the masses, Jesus described in detail the way of true blessedness, but his exhortation to his disciples was a bit different. He addressed them as “the Salt of the Earth.” Jesus told those who were closest to Him that they were “salty Christians.” These men had left their occupations to follow the Lord, demonstrating a level of commitment much higher than the large crowd who gathered there. A great sense of privilege and responsibility came with this title.
In the early Roman empire salt was hard to come by and was used as a payment for labor. The root “sal” is a Latin word from which we get the word “salary,” so this is clearly a compliment expressing their worth. In essence, Jesus was saying that they were “worth their salt.” God’s value of a home is not based on the price of the building, but in the saltiness of its inhabitants. God’s value of a business is not in the amount of revenue it generates, but in the saltiness of its employees. God’s value of a church is not determined by the size of the congregation, but by the saltiness of its members. God’s value of a nation is not decided by its wealth or power, but by the saltiness of its citizens. But what does it mean to be “salty?” Notice three common uses for salt that describe ways we should be useful, providing service to the lost world in which we live:
Salt is valuable as a preservative. Animals naturally decay when they die, but salt can be used to preserve food for a length of time. The British attacked the U.S. salt supply during the War of 1812, knowing that this would affect their food supply, thereby threatening their survival. In a spiritually dead world, Christians ought to be the preservative from decay. It takes a much smaller amount of salt than of food to keep it from decay. It only takes a few salty Christians in number to make a difference in a corrupt and decaying society. We need to get away from the majority, leave the salt-shaker of our comfort zone, and be the salt of the earth!
Genesis 19 illustrates the value of salt in the death of Lot’s wife. God made her in her death what she should have been during her life: a pillar of salt! Because of her attachment to the stuff in her house, she looked back. As a result of her covetousness, she failed to make a positive difference in her world. Abraham understood the value of salt as he interceded on behalf of the city of Sodom, where Lot and his wife lived. God said that he would spare it if there were but fifty righteous living there. But there weren’t fifty to be found. There weren’t forty, and there weren’t even twenty-five. In fact, there weren’t even ten. If Lot and his wife would have made an impact on just one individual, their city would have been spared. God only found nine, and He destroyed it with fire and brimstone. Why? Salt preserves from decay, and salty Christians will preserve a society from moral decay. More salt always equals less spoilage and less decay. In society more salt always equals less crime and less sin. Does your life preserve the people you are in contact with regularly?
Salt provides a savor. Foods that are bland or plain are enhanced with a little salt. Even the bitterest foods are made delightful by simply adding salt. There is a type of chocolate that is unsweetened and has a very bitter taste. By adding salt to it, it becomes tasty and enjoyable to eat. Broccoli without salt is somewhat bitter, but with salt it is sweet. As Christians, we should create a desirable savor that takes off the bitter edge and makes our Christianity sweet. This sweetness should come out of our language according to Colossians 4:6. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with SALT, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Does the fountain of your words send forth sweet water or bitter? If you are a salty Christian, the answer is obvious. Bitter words do not provide a good flavor any more than bitter food without salt. People need to see Christians, families, and churches that edify one another with their words so they will be attracted to the Savior we represent. For that reason our misrepresented Savior admonished us to “have SALT in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50).
Salt creates thirst. Salt is essential to the body. Salt balances the fluid in the body, keeps our muscles taunt and our heart beating. We all have salt in our bloodstream, but thirst is created when our salt level gets too high. This rise in saltiness can affect you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Lack of salt can make us weak and can be extremely deadly. Salty Christians are essential to the health of a society. These Christians were born again, but it was possible for them to lose their savor. Their example teaches us that it is much different to be a disciple than merely saved.
What was it about these disciples that made them salty?
They were industrious. Jesus did not call lazy men to this enormous task of getting the gospel to the world. He called diligent men with character and a strong work ethic. They were cooperative. They were in business with their own father when Jesus called them. By this Jesus knew that they could work well under authority. He wanted men who could work well on a team and take orders without being offended. They were multi-taskers. They kept fishing while they heard Jesus speaking to them. There is a great lesson here. We cannot separate the secular from the sacred. They didn’t completely stop their duties to hear from God. They learned how to work and communicate at the same time. They were thorough. They were mending their nets, which showed their thorough attention to detail.
If Jesus initiated a conversation with you today, would he begin by addressing you as the “Salt of the Earth?” Is your world a better place because of your saltiness? Is your family preserved from decay because of your testimony? Do your words and your conversation add a godly flavor to your Christianity? Are people thirsty for the water of life after being around you? Do they wonder what is different about you? Have you told them? We should pray for one another that we might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Colossians 1:10). People should never have to wonder if we are “worth our salt” because our life leaves no room for question. Our Lord should never have to wonder if we were “worth his blood” being shed for us. He should be able to say to every one of us without exception: “Ye are the Salt of the Earth!”