Jesus was brilliant with metaphors. In a discourse about the cost of being a disciple, Jesus asks audience rhetorically, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?” Then he teaches, “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50).
In Luke he adds, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (14:34-35). In the Sermon on the Mount he calls his disciples “the salt of the earth” (Mt. 5:13). He implies that true disciples are salty and warned that when disciples become “un-salty” they become useless in his kingdom.
Salt served several essential functions in the ancient world of the Israelites. It was used in the ways that we use it—primarily as flavoring for our foods. Paul uses an analogy of saltiness when he admonishes the Colossians, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (4:5-6).
I take that to mean that our conversation should never be bland or flavorless when we speak of Jesus the Messiah.
If we want to serve a meal to someone we wish to influence, we must make sure it has enough flavor to make it palatable. Salt is usually the first choice because it is so versatile and has a way of lifting and improving the other flavors in the food. When we are sharing gospel truth, let’s make sure it is quite savory. Let our teaching and preaching lift the truth of Jesus so it can be discerned and consumed with joy.
Salt has great value as a preservative in places without refrigerators and freezers. Salt keeps perishable foods from going bad. If we are plenty salty, rot and decay won’t set in. Our saltiness insures our goodness, and extends our “shelf life.” This means that our testimony has lasting value to others as well.
Israel added salt to their sacrificial grain and burnt offerings according to the commandments of the Law. Salt symbolized their everlasting covenant with God (Num. 18:19; 2 Chr. 13:5). If we are salty in our corporate worship, we remind each other of our common connection to and trust in our Creator and Redeemer. The bread we share in communion contains salt, serving as a symbol of the our covenantal relationship to the Lord and to one another.
Salt can also be used as a weapon against the enemy! One source states, “Ancient armies used salt as an agent of destruction, pouring it over the ground of conquered territories (Judg. 9:45).* Land that has been contaminated by salt becomes barren (Job 39:6).” Isn’t it fascinating that the same God-given substance that brings flavor and goodness in one context brings barrenness and destruction in another?
When it comes to our words and our testimony of Jesus, we are to be flavorful, and bring the preserving power of his gospel to those in need of preservation. As we worship, we remember the sacred covenant that preserves us for heaven’s use. This has the added effect of ruining the enemy’s power to harm us!
So stay salty my friends!
(I think I’ll have a pretzel now.)
*“Salt,” Eerdman’s Dictionary,” Keith A. Burton, accessed on Accordance Bible Software, p. 1153.