TO CHEW ON: “‘You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.’” Matthew 5:13
Jesus’ use of salt as a metaphor for those who believe in Him is clever. For salt (NaCl - sodium chloride) is surprisingly versatile.
We may think of it primarily for how it’s used as a seasoning in food. That seems to be the comparison Jesus is making here because He refers to how it might lose its flavor. In food, just a little salt is all that’s needed to enhance other flavors and bring about a balance pleasing to the palate.
Salt can be used as a preservative of food and other things. We have probably tapped into its germ-killing qualities when we gargle with salt water to treat a sore throat.
However, salt has many more uses. The Maldon Salt Company website claims that as a society we use salt in more than 14,000 different ways. Their graph shows that its greatest use is in industrial chemicals (where it’s used to make plastic, paper, rubber, fertilzer, bleach, detergent, dyes and more), followed by water conditioning, highway de-icing, food, and agriculture. (During a recent bout of cold weather we experienced the usefulness of salt, especially that which was “trampled underfoot.”)
Some additional facts about salt:
- Salt can remove some stains.
- Salt removes traces of water from purified aviation fuel.
- Every cell in the body contains salt.
- Sodium is key in the operation of all signals within, as well as to and from the brain.
All that to say when Jesus compared believers to salt, He was implying a lot! Here are some parallels I’d suggest:
- Just as a little salt accomplishes much, so though we as Christians may be few in number, our presence can have a seasoning and purifying effect on any society we inhabit.
- Salt is used for many purposes and processes. Similarly Christians (bearers of the salt) can be found in a multitude of places in many careers doing many jobs.
- Just as salt is found in every body cell and needed for brain function, so the saltiness of the gospel in us unites us as Christians and helps us work together as the body of Christ.
- Salt can be an agent of safety and we can be that too. As a pastor in my church prayed recently, “Help us Christians be like the salt on the icy sidewalk, keeping people from slipping and falling.”
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please help me to be a salty Christian. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.