You Are the Salt of the Earth
Standard;Mt 5:13 – You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
Having finished the beatitudes that describe the traits of the Christian, Jesus now uses the metaphors of salt and light to remind us that His followers are and will be different. The Greek grammar here implies that His followers and His followers alone are the salt and light of the world.
By way of review, let's recap the traits of the Christian found in the beatitudes:
The Christian will be “poor in spirit,” a spiritual beggar who trembles before God seeking mercy.
The Christian will mourn over sin, he will have godly sorrow over his sin and the sins of the world.
The Christian will be meek, surrendered to the lordship of Jesus in their lives.
The Christian will hunger and thirst for righteousness, that is, have a nagging craving for Jesus and the right things of God.
The Christian will be merciful, irresistably and actively compassionate toward others.
The Christian will be pure in heart, sincerely hopeful and trusting in the power of God and His Word, and open to it.
The Christian will be a peacemaker, yearning to make peace between God and man.
The Christian will be persecuted, trialed because of their faith in Christ and His truth. Their insistence that Jesus is the only way and that His Word is absolute truth.
These beatitudes point out why you are different from the world, and now Jesus uses the salt and light metaphors to demand that Christians have an impact on the world that He died to redeem.
Given the history of God-followers, it is easy to see why Jesus would emphasis the necessity of being different. The constant tendency from Moses to the present has been to conform to this world rather than seeking to transform.
Now, let's define metaphor. A metaphor is simply a figure of speech used to make a comparison. Metaphors are a favorite tool of Jesus in the Gospels. He frequently used everyday objects to make a point.
So are you literally salt? Of course not, but you are to exhibit it's properties to the world. But what are the properties of salt? What was salt associated with in biblical times?
One of the first mentions of salt in Scripture is found in Lev 2:13 where salt is listed as a necessary element to be used in all food offerings: “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”
The King James says “meat” offerings instead of grain, but we must remember that meat in biblical times was not just steak and burgers. Meat is simply food. When you sat down to “meat” you sat down to eat food.
When “salt of the covenant” is used. It speaks of a sure word because salt signified that which is everlasting. It was used in most all covenants in Old Testament times. Everything offered up to God was to be salted first and foremost to remind us of His everlasting covenant, but I think also to symbolize the necessity of making the offering palatable to God.
Why? Does God have taste buds? Well, not in a physical sense, but HE does have spiritual taste buds. In the Book of Revelation we read that Jesus will spew out the lukewarm. God is not interested in spiritual blandness. Think about that when you think about the necessity of being salt and remember this verse in Revelation!
Also think about another verse with salt connections, namely Romans 12:1,2
Romans 12:1,2a “ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, (salted) holy and acceptable (palatable) to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind....”
Please note how non-conformity to the world is linked with being a living (salted) sacrifice!
We are to present ourselves to God as living salted sacrifices, palatable to God. A palatability that is based on holiness, something distinct from the world due to it's purity. Salt does not conform, rather, its very application transforms.
These Old Testament sacrifices in part, prefigured this passage in Romans. In order to be acceptable to God, the sacrifice had to be salted. In order for us to be accepted by God we must be salt. Purified by faith in Jesus, then set apart from the world. Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth, not could be or should be, and salt does not conform to the world.
Aren't you glad the salt that you used this week while participating in the five day hunger challenge did not conform to the oatmeal, rice, and beans you were eating? What did it do? It transfomed the bland into the palatable!
As Christians, you and I are the agent, that God uses to introduce some kick into this world. The world should look what we are and desire to try some of that same salt in their diet! But if we conform to the world, of what practical use are we? We are good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
This is a very stern warning from Jesus to His followers. Do not lose your taste, do not be conformed to the world or you will be thrown out. True salt never loses it's saltiness. Christians really are to be in the world (in the meat) but not of the world (meat)
Think about it, what happens to that salt you put on your meat? Does it just blend in and disappear forever? No! It will come out of you with it's same salt properties intact. That's why your skin has a salty taste to it, and why your dark tee shirts will have salt rings when they dry off after a workout.
Salt leaves an imprint!
We can't pretend to be salt. We are either salt or not. How do we get there? How do you and I become salted offerings to God? Obviously, only through the grace of God. He alone can do the purifying work necessary to make us true salt.
This purifying work is a continuous process but it always involves forsaking the things of this world. Disciples, by Jesus' own definition are forsakers!
Luke 14:33-35 is very instructive for us in this regard. Jesus had just told His disciples that anyone who follows Him, must hold Him more dear than their parents, their spouses, their children, even their own lives. And then He says,
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Jesus quotes almost word for word from the sermon on the mount and above all things this should help us understand what being salt really means. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. - 1 Jn 2:15
Renounce all you have! That doesn't mean we need to run off and join some monastery and take a vow of poverty. The word “forsake or renounce” simply means to get things in their right priority, put things in their proper order. And the proper order is as follows: Jesus is number one. His Word is number two. When you get those two things in the right order, all other things will find their proper priority in you life.
And once again, we can see the flow in the sermon on the mount. Peacemakers are persecuted because they insist on Jesus being the only way to heaven, and that His Word is absolute truth!
We must die to self! That's what being salt is really all about! We, like salt must forsake, must prioritize even our own identity and give ourselves to Jesus. He then will pour us out of the shaker to season or transform the world.
Salt surrenders itself. It de-prioroitizes itself. Think of some of it's uses: It is sprinkled on a steak, and it seems to disappear, in a sense it dies to self in order to make that meat taste good.
Salt surrenders itself in your water softener, losing it's identity to other elements to make the water soft.
Salt gives itself to meat to act as a preservative.
Salt gives itself to icy roads and they become drivable.
Salt is what a disciple of Jesus is. Because they have made following Him their top priority.
V 34 might read, “Forsaking is good, but if forsaking has lost it's flavor (fails to make Jesus the number one priority and His Word their number two priority) it becomes useless)
We talk in Christian circles about being salt in the world and we take that to mean that we need to be in the political arena or social arena preserving the things of God. Some may indeed be called to do that, but salt first and foremost must be given to something in order to accomplish anything of eternal importance. Give yourself to Jesus and His Word. He will make you salt and apply you where needed.
When it comes to forsaking it's important to remember Lot's wife. She was turned into a pillar of salt. Why? Because she looked back, she didn't want to make Jesus and His Word her top priority. And God with His perfect sense of justice and judgment made her a memorial for all Christians for all time.
It's like God was saying to her, “Fine, if you don't want to get your priorities straight, ....if you don't want to be salt, I'll make you salt permanently. And poor Mrs Lot, too late to give herself up to anything, she herself becomes part of the forsaken and judged landscape of Sodom, good only to be tossed out and trampled upon.
Don't allow this to happen to you. Prioritize! It is the only way to be considered a disciple of Christ. Beware of sin creeping into your life. It will slowly but surely become a priority. Ask yourself, “Am I loving my sins more than Jesus?” Beware of compromise. Salt is pure! Salt is holy!
Look at the world around you. What do you see? It's a mess isn't it? Is there much difference between the world and the church in America? Are you content with that? Jesus wasn't, and He forsook all to change that. He made the removal of sin, His top priority!
Young people do you want to set the world on fire? Do you really want to make a difference?. Then do it by being salt and light. Do it by being a follower of Christ. A forsaker of self with right priorities. Where has conformity with the world gotten you? Has conformity with the world ever done any eternal good? God wants you and I to be different.
A difference that is not expressed superficially through what we wear, or how we style our hair, or mark up our bodies, but a difference that comes from making Him the top priority, forsaking all for His sake and the sake of holiness.
Do you want to be different? Then make Jesus number one and His Word # 2! Choose to be holy. Choose to be pure, for there is nothing that stands out more in this world than a holy child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ who has foraken all and become the salt of the earth.