"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Matthew 5:13
I heard a story of a little boy who one day asked his mother, "Mother, would you give me a dollar if I'll be a good boy?" She replied, "Son, why don't you be good for nothing like your father!" You know, there are a lot of Christians who could be considered that way. They are good for nothing.
Jesus said they are like salt that's lost its savor. They are cast out. They are good for nothing but to be trodden under the foot of men.
Why did Jesus use this particular figure of speech in calling them salt? We need to look at the significance of salt in Jesus time to understand. If it's important in our time, how much more important was it in Jesus time.
In that society, oftentimes pure salt was more valuable than gold. As a matter of fact pure salt was a rare delicacy and was often a medium of exchange. We get our word salary, from that word. It literally means "salt-money," hence the expression, "That man is worth his salt."
Salt was valuable because of what it did. One of the things salt does is cause flavor to come alive. In the book of Job, we read this question, "Can that which is unsavory, be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?" (Job 6:6) Christians are to give a flavor and a zest to life.
Most are simply living bland flavorless lives. That's the reason so many are striving to find some kind of a high. There is no excitement, no thrill, and their lives are tasteless. It's the bland leading the bland. We as Christians are to be different. That's the reason the Bible says in Colossians 4:6, "let your speech always with grace, seasoned with salt." You know, there ought to be something about every Christian that's absolutely exciting.
Salt is also valuable because it preserves. Jesus was standing by the Sea of Galilee teaching what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus talked about being the salt of the earth, he was addressing fishermen. And Jesus is telling those fishermen they are the salt of the earth. And because of their occupation, they knew He was obviously talking about the preserving power of salt as well as the seasoning power of salt. Salt in that day prevented decay and restrained corruption. It was necessary to salt the fish down to keep them edible. And if ever there were a day when we need to preserving power of the gospel salt it is this day of deadly decay!
Not only does salt flavor and preserve, but salt heals. In 2 Kings 2:20-22, you read of Elisha putting a cruse of salt into some deadly, polluted waters. Those waters were healed, and out of barrenness and bitterness there came blessedness. Salt has antiseptic and healing properties to it. As a matter of fact, in Bible times, when little babies were born, they would give that baby a saline bath to hold down infection.
Have you ever gotten a cut on your hand, and then got salt in it? Salt definitely burns and irritates.
In Mark 9:49, it states, "For everyone shall be salted with fire." He's saying fire and salt have something in common. Salt burns just as fire. And you need to be aware that the truth of God's word, when rubbed into this diseased and putrefying old world, will sting. There are many people who want a non-irritating brand of the gospel. But dear friend, no offense means no effect.
Salt has such powerful properties that you can take just a pinch of salt, and it will permeate an entire gallon of water. In fact, salt is one of the few major compounds that will dissolve equally well in hot or cold water. What we need to do is to get the salt to the source, where it can penetrate, activate and change society. We need to guard ourselves from becoming a salt warehouse. We need to be salt shakers, getting out and changing the world.
Are you a glorified salt shaker — never letting the salt out? The Bible-believing Christian is no longer respected. Why? Because we have become good for nothing. We have lost our saltiness. But God has not lost His power. One salty saint and the power of God can make the difference.