“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?”
Matthew 5:13, NLT
Growing up in a rural fishing community along the East Coast of Canada, seeing fish fillets hanging out to dry on a clothesline was not a strange sight. Once dried by the sun, the fillets of cod were layered with coarse salt in a ten gallon bucket, stored in a cold, dry place, preserved and ready for consumption during the winter months.
What was the key to preserving the fish during those long winter months?
Whenever I read Matt 5:13, I am reminded of the buckets of salted fish stored in the basement of my childhood home. As a master teacher, Jesus uses the ordinary image of salt to convey an extraordinary truth.
Salt’s purposes are preserving, purifying bacteria, and providing food with a penetrating zingy flavour.
The lesson behind Jesus’ salty message was that as believers, we are “the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13). Just as salt is only useful when it is true to its nature, we believers are only useful when we display the true nature of Christ.
Salt must keep its “saltiness” to be of any value. Therefore, we need to make sure that we are retaining ALL the qualities of our “saltiness” as believers. Debasing influences are ever present, ready to spoil. According to Jesus, believers are the only agent that can prevent total corruption.
But…corruption is everywhere! A bacterium has grown up and has been allowed to kill absolute truth.
The church scratches its head. Why is society decaying, why are our kids leaving, not just the church, but God behind? Why are the divorce rates climbing and teen pregnancies still on the rise?
The answer is painfully clear.
The “salt of this earth” has lost its saltiness, rendering it useless! We believers are not fulfilling our function of preserving, purifying and providing flavour.
Unfortunately, because being “salty” can cost too much, many believers today choose to blend in instead of standing out. Sadly, the church as a whole seeks relevancy over saltiness, conformity more than Christ-likeness, and preaching a “seeker friendly” version of sin rather than the clear, poignant way of Scripture.
Being “salty” is not easy.
Being “salty” is not always “politically correct” or “socially acceptable.” It is often considered (by the world and sometimes the church) intolerant, rigid, narrow-minded and even legalistic.
However, if we fail at being “salt of the earth,” then we have let down the very Lord who sacrificed His own life for us! We are of no value.
This truth was of such importance to Jesus that he reminds his disciples (then and now) what happens to useless salt (Matt 5:13c). It is thrown down onto paths, and while it lays there waiting for the rain to dissolve it, the useless salt is trodden down by the feet of the people passing by.
As believers, if we lose our saltiness, we will be trodden on by the rotten, debasing influences of the world. Therefore, we need to make it a practice, daily, to check our saltiness. We need to make it a priority to keep our distinct salty flavour.
Yet there is a third function for salt.
It creates thirst. Try eating a big bag of salt and vinegar chips without taking a drink and you will see what I mean!
Living as “salty” believers, we cause others to be thirsty for Christ.
What does a salty believer look like?
The truth of this message was so important to Jesus and to His Father’s work that He added for emphasis, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!” Luke 14:34
Is Jesus speaking to you today?
Have you checked your saltiness lately?
Have you chosen to be “unsalted” by blending in rather than being salt in today’s decaying society?
Have you allowed your saltiness to be washed away with the tide of pop culture and social acceptance?
Salted or unsalted. Which are You?