We are to be the salt of the earth
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says something frightening: He says that we are the salt of the earth but that if the salt loses its saltiness it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled upon.
What is the nature of saltiness? What is it that makes salt worth more than being thrown out to be trampled on?
Consider these qualities:
Salt preserves. As David Hiskey points out, “Salt has been used as the primary method of preserving meats and various other foods as far back as history records.” Salt keeps food from going bad by absorbing water from the food, making the environment too dry to support harmful mold or bacteria.
We are to be salt to this world by striving for what is good and just and right and compassionate so that an environment is established wherein the harmful mold or bacteria of evil cannot grow.
Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament over 200 years ago, remarked, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
When we, who are meant to be salt, lose our saltiness—when we stop striving for what is good and just and right and compassionate—evil flourishes.
Salt cleanses. Throughout history, salt water has been used to cleanse wounds.
Anne Lamott writes, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
What we need in place of the poison of un-forgiveness is the cleansing nature of forgiveness. Corrie ten Boom stresses, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Pope Francis adds, “Pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart.”
When we, who are meant to be salt, lose our saltiness—when we stop forgiving and stop bringing the good news of forgiveness to others—the poison of un-forgiveness prevails.
Salt adds flavor. William Barclay states, “Food without salt is a sadly insipid and even a sickening thing.” The same could be said about life without joy. Joy is how a Christian is meant to bring flavor to the world around us.
G.K. Chesterton claims, “Joy, which was the small publicity of the Pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” Henry Ward Beecher argues, “The test of Christian character should be that a man is a joy-bearing agent to the world.”
When we, who are meant to be salt, lose our saltiness—when we stop being “a joy-bearing agent to the world”—we cease to bring to the world around us the flavor that is needed.