Bible Society of South Africa

Salt of the earth - 13 June 2024

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

Salt and Light

13“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.

Matthew 5:13GNBOpen in Bible reader

Are you one of those people described as being the “salt of the earth” type of person? What does it even mean? Today, table salt (sodium chloride) is a cheap product due to newer technology used in making it. However, in biblical times, it was as expensive as gold per weight, due to high demand and low supply. The processes of making it, by evaporation in suitable locations, and by transporting it over vast distances made it a high-value commodity. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt; that is where the word “salary” comes from, as well as the saying of someone being worth their salt.

Jesus compares a believer with salt. The first reason for this comparison is because salt makes food taste so much better. We see in every cooking show how important it is to properly season your food with salt. With this image, we are called to make the world around us a better place. By loving our neighbour and by treating all mankind in the way we want to be treated, we add good taste to our communities.

The second use of salt that comes to mind is the preservative qualities of it. For the longest part of human history, we did not have the luxury of refrigeration. There is also the factor of long periods of vegetables being out of season, and hunting or fishing declining due to a change in seasons. Humanity has discovered how to treat meat and fish with salt, and then wind dry it to make it last longer. We have learnt to pickle vegetables in a brine mixture. This enables food to be stored for much longer periods of time. Christians are called to be preservative in nature, to act against rot stepping in. We don’t let our passions and desires run freely; we are protecting others against our human nature by self-control. We love the Lord, therefore, we obey his commands. He sends us out to love one another. With love, the darkness around us recedes.

The third quality of salt is that it can make you thirsty. An old saying is that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. However, when you feed a horse salt tablets, it will drink water. We are to live such an exemplary life that others begin to thirst for the source of living water, Jesus, in us.

Jesus warns of salt losing its saltiness, of not doing what it was made for. When salt goes off, it is useless. It was thrown out on roads and trampled by others. It lost its high value. When we are no different from the world around us, we lose our saltiness. We lose our ability to show God’s alternative to the dangerous ways of this world. Jesus calls on us to be the difference that the world needs at present. We are to give taste, fight against decay and inspire a thirst for the living water of Christ.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for calling me to make a difference in this world. Help me to be a tasteful example of your love. Help me to not be part of the decay, but to help prevent the rot in this world. Use my life to inspire others to thirst for your love, for your glory alone. Amen

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