Being Salt in the World
My family can attest that out of the strengths and gifts God has given me there’s clearly a few he did not. One could argue my artistic skill set is still on the same level as my almost 8-year-old and only slightly above my 3-year-old; my cooking ability, unless I’m following a recipe EXACTLY, often can be a bit underwhelming. While I may possess all sorts of spices in my cabinet, I’m not very good at knowing exactly how much to use and my ‘guesstimating’ rarely works out in anyone’s favor. I tend to way under salt and overuse herbs. (Consider this my official warning should you ever eat a meal that I’ve cooked and an explanation about why I usually bring takeout if I’m supposed to provide a meal; you’re welcome.) As we all know about salt, too much or too little of it can completely change the taste of a dish.
In the Bible, we find a few references to salt. One of the most compelling to me is in Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Reading lots of commentaries out there you’ll see several repeated ideas where they expound upon the use of salt in Biblical times for things like currency, a sign of purity, adding flavor to food, as a fertilizer, causing people to thirst (for Christ), or a preservative. It’s the last idea I want to focus on.
It was common to use salt as preservation for foods before everyone was blessed with a Maytag or GE refrigerator in their kitchen. During this time, they would often rub copious amounts of salt into the food to prevent decay. That’s a simplistic view of what Christ is asking us to do. As we go about our daily life, not only are we called to be his light for others to see, but to use his salt found in scripture to prevent moral decay. So how do we do that?
Here are 3 things I keep in mind:
1. I must spend time learning and growing in the word so that we can be filled with enough ‘salt’ to recognize decay when we see it. For me, it means choosing to make time for a consistent, daily quiet time with God. I’ve noticed, it’s very hard for me to know what the Bible says so that I’m ‘salty’ if I’m not spending adequate time learning it first. If Christ is the salt, then the only way for me to become ‘salty’ is to consistently study and learn what he has told us through scriptures. So, how do I take time and become ‘salty’ first?
· It means I turn off the tv and my phone and go to bed earlier than I might naturally choose so that I can and will wake up early to have 1:1 time with God.
· It means spending time not only reading and learning about God, but being quiet to listen to him as well.
· It means investing in him like I invest in any other hobby or activity that I enjoy. If I’m willing to spend money on a gym membership, getting my nails done, or a trip to Starbucks, then I should be willing to spend money and time on what I claim as my number one priority. When I first started doing quiet times, I realized I needed help. I needed books to inspire me and teach me. I needed to be fed through the wisdom and knowledge of others so that I could grow in my own. Reading a chapter or verse in the Bible and then trying to glean insight all on my own was a struggle and made a desire for quiet times hard. I ended up discouraged because I wanted to want to have a quiet time, but frankly did not enjoy them. It wasn’t until I found books about the Bible that my hunger, knowledge, and desire to understand more grew. I had to be willing to invest in my knowledge of God.
2. I must be willing to confront, in love, deterioration versus turning a blind eye towards it when I see it. The interesting thing about salt as a preservative is that salt and decay cannot coexist. If we are called to be salt, then God is calling us to actively take a stand in preventing the moral decay that if left unchecked would consume us. I must be so filled with his word that I am able to come alongside others and help them in their walk with Christ. I must be willing to go out on a limb alone, if necessary, to stand for what the Bible says is right or wrong versus what the world may say is or isn’t popular.
3. Being salt is hard. Being salt in the world requires courage and outward action to be taken and not just a passive stance. Meat cannot be preserved by simply hanging near salt it must be physically rubbed in it, or soaked in it, or completely covered by it; and not just a little salt will work. It takes a lot. Think 3x the amount of salt in seawater to preserve meat. If God is commanding us to be salt, then we must be so filled with his word that there is no denying our saltiness to the world.
The life God has commanded us to lead is not an easy one. But, if I’m willing to spend time putting Christ’s words into my heart so that I can help preserve the life of others, I can’t think of a better way to impact the lives of others. It takes courage and fortitude to stand for Christ in front of others and to be salt in a world that encourages blandness. There’s no denying it will be difficult. There’s no denying it will require consistent surrendering of my heart to God. And there is no denying that by being obedient and honoring his commandments that it’ll be worth it. That it won’t be long before I, too, might hear God say:
Matthew 3:17, “And behold a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, My Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”