13 You are the salt of the earth, if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
Most Americans today are asked to cut salt out of their lives. Yet Jesus now says we are to have salt and are to be salt. Why would he say “You are the salt of the earth?”
In ancient times, salt was traded on the open market, similar to the way Oil, Wheat and other commodities are traded today. Roman Soldiers were paid their wages in salt. In fact this is where we get our word Salary for salary means salt. Wars were fought for the control of salt mines. And the Israelites used it in conjunction with the sacrificial system.
“Ye are the salt of the earth.” I suppose salt sounds better than saying you are the mustard seed of the earth. Although the mustard seed is used as an illustration by Christ in that we should have at least a little faith, faith the size of a mustard seed it wouldn’t fit with what Christ is trying to say in this passage.
Here on earth there are two great cleansing agents. The first being water. We wash our hands, wash our cloths, and the earth was once washed by water at the time of the flood. Water is used as a cleansing agent.
The other great cleansing agent is fire. When the plague rocked Europe during the dark ages, if a person died from the plague all their belongings would be burned in an attempt cleans the area of all contaminates. During Bible times, the cities of Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed by the cleansing fire from heaven. And all that is left today is the area we call the Dead Sea. Which by the way is the saltiest place on earth.
Over the last seven posts we have looked at the beatitudes. We have discovered that these make up the character of Christ. We have further come to understand that the first four are about our relationship with Christ while the last 6 deal with our relationship with fellow man. When we adopt these principles into our hearts and life, we in essence are putting on the Character of Christ. And as Christ was reviled and persecuted, Christ true followers are often treated in a similar manner.
Christ suddenly changes from character to speaking of salt. A rather strange shift this sermon spoken from the lips of Christ takes. Or, is it really all that strange?
Today we use salt to add flavor to the foods we eat. Or if living in a cold climate, then to melt ice from our sidewalks and roadways. But in the age before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. Salt when rubbed into something was used to preserve that which it was rubbed into. It was used to stop or slow the decaying process, to preserve for further use. Meat that was properly stored after first being rubbed down by salt would last for several months. Salt therefore is not a cleansing agent but an agent used to preserve.
For salt to be effective it must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate and infuse in order to preserve. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving power of the gospel. Mankind is not saved in masses, but as individuals. Personal influence is a power. We must come close to those whom we desire to benefit.
The savor (the pure and preserving aspect) of the salt represents the vital power of the Christian, the love of Jesus in the heart, the righteousness of Christ pervading the life. The love of Christ is diffusive and if it is dwelling in us, it will flow out to others. Then when we come close to others with unselfish interest and love their hearts will be warmed to the preserving power of the Spirit of God. This is a preserving power and not the power of the man himself, but the power of the Holy Spirit that does the transforming work.
Jesus added the solemn warning: “If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.”
I prefer the way it is written in Luke 14:34, 35; 34 Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
The beatitudes are all about establishing a relationship with God and your fellow man in which you have the same character traits of our Heavenly Father so that he can use you as salt to preserve God’s children on earth for the great day of Christ’s return.
But when the Christian becomes impure and loses his flavor or savor, then the salt becomes worthless, loses its preserving properties and is worthless, neither fit for land nor for the dunghill so it is thrown upon the highway to be trodden underfoot.