You are the Salt of the Earth
Jesus makes a statement here that tells us a great deal about His followers and the world they live in – and it comes immediately after the promise of persecution! When the world persecutes you don’t forget who you are. You are the salt of the earth! A little salt can make a big difference. How can we, so small, make a difference in such a big world? Just be who God has made us to be – salt!
Matthew 5:13 “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.”
You are the salt of the earth;
Jesus is making a statement of fact. Salt was critical to first century life. In the Roman era soldiers were often paid in salt. That is where we get the phrase, “He’s not worth his salt.” We are called to be a people who influence our world by who we are.
Salt is who the Christian is. The mood of the verb here is indicative (a statement of fact), not imperative (a command to be something). Jesus is not urging His disciples to become something they are not; they are to be what God had already made them to be. We are not to try to be salt or to become salt but to wake up to the realization we are already salt! “You” here is both plural and emphatic. The meaning is that each one of you who are disciples, you and you alone are the salt of the world.
The function of salt is to prevent putrefaction. The principle function of salt is to preserve and to act as an antiseptic. The Christian in the world is there to prevent the process of putrefaction and decay.
Salt was the most common of all preservatives. The salt never did any good when it was sitting on one shelf and the meat on another. To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat. In a similar way, Christians must allow God to rub them into the world. They must be Christians at work, in politics, at home, and everywhere normal life in their own society would take them.
Salt enhances flavor to food. A secondary function of salt is to provide flavor or prevent food from being bland. Life without Christianity is bland. Everything about us should express the attractiveness as well as the holiness of our Lord. By His very presence He raised the spirits of people. Sinners were attracted to Him because He offered them hope, freedom and transformation. We live in a materialistic, entertainment crazy world. People are looking for any distraction from the meaningless lives they live. The follower of Jesus is to find life in Jesus and in Him the savor that brings meaning and purpose to life. Take Jesus out of life and it becomes boring and meaningless. Is Jesus what life is all about for you?
His life in us makes us the salt of the earth. When we allow Jesus to live through us all of society benefits. It is not that we call ourselves Christian that makes us salt but the life of God within us that makes us salt.
God uses the small things. Like salt, Christians may seem small and insignificant, powerless in a power-mad society. Yet they have the ability to influence every segment of it and to permeate the whole. Salt was a common substance. God uses the small things and the small people. The smaller you can become, the more effective His work in you will be.
The salt must dissolve if the flavor is to be released. To be effective we have to be willing to let all of our self-interest and self-preservation dissolve to make the difference in the world we’ve been left here to make. We have to be willing to go wherever God would take us. We must be a people who come in order to be prepared to go.
Salt makes you thirsty: There should be that evidence of joy, satisfaction and peace that makes people look up and say, “That’s what I want; that is what I want to be like!” Does Christ in you make men thirst for Jesus Christ?
But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
The salt of the Dead Sea area was often contaminated with gypsum and other minerals and as a result often lost its flavor and preserving properties. When the believer is contaminated with the world he loses his flavor and ability to make a difference in the world. When we withdraw from the world and don’t interact with the world we don’t make a difference. Our world is not a better place because Christ is out of society; but the resolution is not legislation but Christians whose sole desire is to be yielded to Him and allow Him to manifest His life through us. As salt is used to flavor and preserve meat what will give flavor if the salt has lost its purpose?
We lose our savor when we substitute religion for the life of Christ. He calls us to live out who He has made us to be. We are new people with a new nature. We are salt when we allow Christ to live through us. When we, committed followers of Jesus, live out of our own resources – His indwelling life is no longer evident and our salt loses its flavor. We are to impact our world; make a difference in our world by allowing Christ to live through us. When we take up religion and substitute rules and principles for relationship we lose our flavor and fail to impact the world.
It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
Salts contaminated with different minerals were only useful for being put on paths and roads to keep them clear of vegetation. We lose our purpose when we aren’t salt in the world. We are no good to the world if we are not in the world; we are no good to the world if we are the same as the world. We are salt to preserve and flavor; not kill grass on the road. When our lives don’t offer love joy peace and hope we have nothing to offer the world and we are cast out and trampled by the world. We are useless to the world if we don’t let Christ live through us!
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.