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CHURCH TALK: How you can be the salt of the earth

Friday 2 September 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features

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Last week I queued up with many others in our community to participate in a nation-wide health survey carried out by Te Marae Ora.

One of the questions asked in the survey was your daily consumption of salt. As with anything, the right amount is good, but too much can cause a few health challenges.

For those who enjoy cooking, the right amount of salt can make a world of difference between a great tasting meal and one that’s tasteless.

While talking with His disciples on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes this interesting statement. Matthew 5:13 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” (NIV).

In order for us to understand how you can be the salt of the earth we need to grasp what salt meant for people during the time of Jesus.

Salt was considered by many to be a flavour enhancer. Adding salt to a dish brings out the taste of all the other flavours.

Refrigeration was not an option in those days. So, in order to preserve meat, salt was used to keep it from decaying. The salt was to prevent bacteria from growing or forming in the meat.

Salt was also used to treat wounds and disinfect them. The simple thinking was that the presence of salt would kill bacteria by drying the bacteria out. In essence, salt became an agent of healing. 

According to the following Bible references…salt was also added to the offering as it was presented to God. Ezekiel 43:24 says: “You are to offer them before the Lord, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord." And Leviticus 2:13 also 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."

Because of the high value of salt, especially in preserving meats, it’s believed the Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt.

As you can see, salt was a prized commodity back then, and understanding that can help us understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:13 that you are the salt of the earth.

Christians can be salt of the earth by growing in a relationship with Christ through the daily pursuit of Him through His word and prayer, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can be assured that we are never alone.

I like the Message Bible take on Matthew 5:13 which reads: “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours 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.”

Those who seek God see others as He sees them. When we love people for who they are, it can reveal the best in them and encourage them to grow, just as salt adds wonderful flavour to food. We can be vessels of God’s love to the people He purposefully places around us.

One commentator explains: “Salt draws out the good flavours subtly hidden in the food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God.”

When we follow and remain in Christ, we are able to let go of the things of this world, and gradually take hold of eternal things. We focus less on material possessions, and accolades.

In the words of Charles Spurgeon: “We are here as ‘salt of the earth,’ to be a blessing to the world,” “We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for him, as ‘workers together with him.’”

And so those who heard Jesus’ teaching that we are to be “the salt of the earth” understood what He meant…that through our influence, we should be a preserving forcein a world that is filled with rot, spoil, and decay.

God’s Word working in our lives causes us to be like salt, and our very presence can help change the not so good things that is eating away at our world.

So as the ‘salt of the earth’, let us remember to preserve what is good. Be a pleasant taste and a force for good, and those around you will "praise your Father in Heaven" Matthew 5:16.