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You are the Salt

I was reading in Job this past week and chuckled at the verse in chapter 6 verse 6. Job says, “Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” When I read this I was very amused at the thought. Job is giving a rebuttal to his first “friend” who has just tried to explain Job’s suffering. Eliphaz has been explaining to Job that suffering comes only because of a broken relationship with God and that Job must be in sin. Job states that there are some things in life that are intolerable and unpalatable without seasoning.

Eliphaz stated some things that were very true. Suffering does come from sin and a broken relationship with the Father. However, at times people suffer from the sin of others even when they are blameless. Because of Adam’s sin we all suffer death. Because of the sin of some drunken driver or child molester innocent people suffer. Eliphaz’ statements to Job came in a manner that gave him no relief. There was no comfort in his words. His intentions were possibly for good but the action turned out to be harmful to Job and was not acceptable.

In Colossians 4:6 is another reference to salt. Paul says to “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” It applies to Eliphaz and his harsh speech. Paul tells us to have our speech seasoned with salt. It refers to answering someone. Have you ever had a problem knowing what to say? When I was a child I was taught that if you didn’t have something nice to say you should keep silent. How many times have we have stepped into a situation and spoke harsh words that lasted for decades?

Harmful words have kept many people from receiving the Gospel even though a person may have thought they were witnessing for Christ. I often hear Brothers in Christ give “matter of fact” messages that are so judgmental that the hearer has no kind of hope for deliverance. I remember my Dad, who was a missionary years ago, tell about going to a home in visitation and the man and woman were obviously living together out of marriage. There was an older preacher with him. When the other preacher realized that they were unmarried he bolted out of the house because they were “sinners”! My father tried to explain that the sick needed a hospital and that these were the exact people who needed to be in church but the preacher wouldn’t have it.

I wonder what happened to those people. If we would all recognize that none of us are home yet, we would stop judging each other. I’m not talking about matters that are clearly spelled out in the Word of God. For example, we see that homosexuality is an abominable sin before God, drinking alcohol is wrong for Christians; there can be no other name other than Jesus by which we all must be saved. Our judgment should be on matters of absolute facts such as these. It should not be on whether or not there should be musical instruments in the church, should baptism be immersion or sprinkling, should Christians celebrate Christmas, and other matters not spelled out in scripture. I have no place to judge on these matters although I do have opinions on them all. When I begin to view someone as being less than myself or my opinion as right and theirs as wrong I place me higher than them and will be wrong every time.

Getting back to the Word, salt is a common mineral with a long history. I saw an interesting statement of fact. There have been more wars fought over salt than there have been over gold. Down through the ages salt was highly valued. It has some wonderful properties. Of course you already know that it seasons food. Job was right. A salted egg-white is pretty good! Try it without salt and you’ll see what I mean. Our speech, seasoned with salt, is like giving someone information but with the grace that they can receive it. We sometimes make reference to using tact. People who have their speech seasoned with salt are those who use tact.

I know that many funerals have been preached where the pastor tried to turn it into an altar call. It may have been the family’s request (I would hope so) and if it is that is proper to do so. But if not, then it’s probably not the way to comfort a grieving person. Do we actually think telling the congregation that the person in the coffin is in hell will make every one else run to the altar? There is a time and place for everything.

So our speech should have the love of God in it. That’s what Paul meant when he said that we would know how we should answer someone. If we have the salt ahead of time (wisdom and grace), when the time comes for us to use it we will answer someone properly.

The title of the message comes from another, more familiar passage. In Matthew 5:13 our Lord says that we are the salt of the earth. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? When you go to the store and see so many spices and herbs and salt is the most common one of all, it can be overlooked.  I suppose that the fact that the industry is pushing salt substitutes is a sermon in itself. Those who have high blood pressure now are usually on a salt-free diet. It was not always this way. One hundred years ago men ate salted pork and lived healthier lives because they actually exercised on a regular basis. I once worked for a factory where salt-tablets were given in times of extreme heat to help a person keep from dehydrating. They actually had a dispenser in the plant and we were reminded to take them.

As our Lord calls us the salt of the earth I see three main things He could have been referring to. First is the preserving property of salt. We know that meat and vegetables can be preserved by heavy salting. Angie makes sauerkraut by packing cabbage in salt and pressing it down in a crock. That’s all that it takes to preserve the cabbage. Hams were once packed in salt boxes and injected with a saline solution to preserve them without the use of refrigeration. Salt preserves. Because of the church still being on the planet the rest of mankind is safe for the time being.

Because of Christ’s teaching even the ungodly prosper. When an unsaved person realizes that Christians are honest and hard working as a rule they prefer to hire them. Christians have changed many a social situation in history, such as the equitable treatment of women and the freedom from slavery. Our nation was founded on Christian beliefs and it’s very evident that the collapse of morals is the direct result of pulling away from that foundation. Salt preserves and so do we as Christians.

The second thing I see is the seasoning itself. We season the world with a special flavor. There is no other group as unique as the church. We are not living for this life but for the next. Our Savior is one who rose from the dead and taught us to overcome evil with good. We are to love our enemies and do good to those who abuse us. There is no group of people like us. We certainly flavor the world with our own seasoning.

The third reason I think Christ said we were the salt of the earth comes from a use of salt as payment for Roman soldiers. It is where we get the term salary and phrases like “he’s not worth his salt”. Salt is synonymous with a salary of even pay-day. The church, or body of Christ, is the reward Christ will receive. We are His reward as He is ours. Just as He will be worth it all, we will also be to Him!

Salt has an almost mysterious property that once it’s done its job it disappears. It never leaves residue or any evidence that it was there as it becomes part of the process of preserving, flavoring or giving value. We must never gain glory in anything we say or do. We should be able to come into a situation and once we have departed there should be no residue left.  We should only leave them with the flavor of God.  Jesus said that if salt lost its saltiness it was no longer good and would be thrown out and walked on. Rock salt has minerals in it and if the salt dissolves away it leaves only a sandy material. It is literally good for nothing.

When we mix with the world and loose our uniqueness we lose our value and usefulness. Salt is special because it is the only element that can do all the things I mentioned. It certainly makes us thirsty when we eat salty foods. There is a marketing trick to give you free salty food so that you buy expensive drinks. Bars, restaurants and airlines have learned to do this. They can pass out free peanuts so you will be forced to drink more. We, as the church, should be causing people to thirst for the Living Water. Our speech and actions should always make those who do not know Christ want to get a drink from the never ending fountain.

So that is my message on salt. Have you made anyone thirsty lately?

 

Prayer-Father I ask that we always know how to answer those who seek. Let our conversation always be seasoned with love and grace. As we have failed in the past, please forgive us. May we go forward as salt in a world that needs the flavor and preserving of Christ.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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One Response to "You are the Salt"

  1. Lisa E. says:

    Thanks for the very interesting and thought provoking post, Paul.

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