A Dash of Salt
“You are the salt of the earth.”
There was once a little boy and his mom who went into a store to purchase a few things. Now this mom was very intent on teaching her son manners and raising him to be a responsible polite young man and she would work on manners every chance she got. Well, as they are in this store they come to the hardware counter. The clerk, trying to be nice to the boy pulls out a lollipop and with a big smile extends his hand to the boy and say, “Would you like a lollipop?” The little boy shakes his head yes and reaches for the lollipop. His mother nudges and says, “Billy, what do you say?” And Billy looks at the clerk and says “Charge it!” Just what he had heard his mother say many times.
Have you ever thought about the impact or influence you have on others? Maybe even an influence you didn’t realize you had? As Jesus wraps up his discourse on the beatitudes, he talks about influence and its role in our life. So let’s read about it in Matthew 5:13. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Composition of Salt
Jesus is making a transition here; he is moving from the ideals of the “beatitudes” to the implementation of them in your life. What he does is give us two metaphors to get us thinking about applying those attitudes; salt and light. Today we are going to focus on the first of those two, salt.
Let me give you a quick lesson you might remember from your high school science class; the element number of salt isNaCl because it is made of two elements, sodium and chloride. The interesting thing about that is that each of these two elements by themselves are dangerous, abrasive, explosive and they can kill you. Let me break it down for you.
Sodium – Care is required in handling elemental sodium, as it generates flammable hydrogen and caustic sodium hydroxide upon contact with water; in fact, powdered sodium may spontaneously explode in the presence of oxygen.
Chloride – The presence of chlorides, e.g. in seawater, significantly aggravates the conditions for pitting corrosion of most metals (including stainless steels and high-alloyed materials) by enhancing the formation and growth of the pits through an autocatalytic process. It is very abrasive and very corrosive.
Here is the issue, each element in and of themselves can be lethal and cause great damage not only to humans but to other things as well. But when combined in the right mixture, and when used in the proper way, salt is an essential ingredient in life and to humans. Interestingly Jesus uses this metaphor of salt as the impact that we are to bring to our world.
So you might be thinking, yea, so? Well Jesus uses this metaphor of salt for us to understand how to implement the beatitudes in our life. We are all familiar with salt so Jesus uses something we all have experience with, to help us understand how our influence in the world can work.
Everyone Has Influence
NOTE: It is also interesting to note that Jesus does not say that some of you are salt and some are not. The verse states:
“You are the salt of the earth.” vs. 13a
Jesus words are not only for the 12 disciples but for the larger crowd of believers and for us as well. Jesus takes this ragtag group of men assembled from all different backgrounds and professions and with all different styles and personalities and tells them that they will have influence on those around them. The message is the same today. Everyone has influence.
Ill. Look around at the people sitting near you. We are an eclectic group of people brought together for the same purposes as those disciples; to worship God, love others, and hare our faith.
Now you can make the argument that some have good influence and some have bad influence but regardless, everyone has some type of influence in their world.
So why salt? I think it is because it has a variety of uses and I believe that is why this analogy is used; based on who we are, the gifts, talents, and temperaments that we all have, we can have influence in the world in a variety of ways. So often we think it is only the “important” people, the “successful” people, the “religious” people, or any other qualifier that you want to put in there, are the influencers. No, Jesus is very clear, we all have influence.
So let’s discover some of the uses for salt and how it directs us to our influence in the world. You should be aware that salt has so many different uses but I have narrowed it down to four that we will look at today.
First, salt was a preserving element in the ancient world and still is today.
In olden times as well as in some of the lesser refined countries in our world today, salt is used to preserve meat and food from decay. Whatever could not be consumed right away was soaked in a salt solution and then dried in the hot sun so that it could not be eaten and rotted by other animals and things like maggots. It ends up being something like what we call jerky. This is how they could make their food supply last longer. They would also coat their meat with a thick coat of salt that would form a crust on top of it and would keep the bees, flies and maggots out. If things are not protected, bad things can get in and change those things. There is probably not too much worse a thought than some food filled with maggots. We have to be that protective and good influence on others or the bad stuff gets in and corrupts. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 12:2:
“You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” 1 Cor. 12:2
Paul basically says that if we don’t use our saltiness to influence others, they will get influenced but in a negative way and that will lead them astray. BTW, when salt is applied to the outer layer of meat, it forms a tasty crust on the meat. This was especially true in Jesus time when they didn’t have the modern conveniences of refrigerators or freezers.
Ex. Wedding I did last week and the spare ribs that were cooked. Rubbed in salt, pepper, and garlic powder then put in a smoker for 1 ½ hours. Yummmmm!!!!!
As salt is a preservative used to keep things fresh and protected, we are called to be the preserving agent for God and his ways in our world. Our influence for God can help people and preserve their lives, we need to be passing the good news on to our friends, our children, our families, etc.
Ex. It only takes 1% in a society to make a difference. Our week: 7 days, 168 hours, 10080 minutes. Can you give 1% to make a difference in one child’s life? Opportunity: To participate in Kids Klub starting in Sept.
2. Promotes Thirst
A second use of salt is to promote thirst; you might even say it promotes thirst in a good way.
Ex. When I was a kid I had rabbits. One of the essential things I needed to keep in their cage was a salt lick. A salt lick is a natural mineral deposit where animals in nutrient-poor ecosystems can obtain essential mineral nutrients. In an ecosystem, salt/mineral licks often occur naturally, providing the sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc required in the springtime for bone, muscle and other growth in animals and wildlife. Not only does it provide nutrients from them it enhances thirst so they drink more water and process those nutrients.
Tie in: what helps promote your thirst for God so you can be filled with the proper spiritual nutrients? Jesus said in Matt. 5:6:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
We live in a hurting world. We live in a world that is thirsty for good news and thirsty for someone to care about them. They are trying to fill that thirst with a lot of things, money, sex, alcohol and drugs, etc. They want health and they want to know someone cares. We as a church need to fill that thirst. We need to give them water that doesn’t make them thirsty again. Living water as Jesus said. God says in Isaiah 55:1:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Isaiah 55:1
Salt also penetrates. It works its way through something completely and enhances the taste. Jesus uses a similar example in matt. 13:33:
“He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Jesus is using the example salt because a small amount makes a big difference. We can make a big difference in our society but also consider this; a small amount of salt has a huge effect. Jesus is also intimating that a little amount of Him in our life makes a huge difference in us. Consider this, have you let Christ in? Even a small amount. It will make a big difference. A great examp;le of this is sea water. Anybody know the salt content of sweater? Only 3% to 4%. What that means is that sea water has 35 pounds of salt per 1,000 pounds of sea water. I don’t know about you but I have tasted sea water, not on purpose, and it is, well, yuk!
Ex. Here is a better example. The small amount of salt you put into a recipe, for example, like chocolate chip cookies. (list ingredients and note the small amount of salt).
2 ¼ cups of flour
1 teas. Baking soda
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
¾ granulated sugar
¾ cup of brown sugar
1 teasp. Vanilla
2 cups of chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
Ex. Pretzels – pass out pretzels to the congregation
Salt can also be something that purifies things and that is why many medications have salt as an ingredient.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” Isaiah 61:1
It was recognized from the earliest of times as an excellent sterilizing agent. It was used to prevent infection in wounds, open sores, and abrasions usually with a strong solution of salt water. Let me expand this a bit more. God’s ways bring healing to our lives. Every single law that God gives us is not meant to restrict us but to free us and to bring us life, real life. That’s the kind of salt we are to bring to the world. What are some of the things we are to bring to the world? Love, peace, help for the poor and the homeless and the widows, joy, etc. You can’t bring enough of that tot the world. They want it, they need, it and it’s the church that should be providing it. We should not settle for them finding those things in other places.
Ill. I’m not afraid to say I have been faithful to my wife
I’m not afraid to say that I don’t use bad language
I’m not afraid to say that I love all people, regardless of race, religion, social status
I’m not afraid to say that I love God and God’s ways
You can call me a goody two-shoes, you can call me anything you want, but I know and have a joy and peace that surpasses anything the world can offer me.
In the same way we are called to bring healing to the broken hearted, help for the poor, stand for the downtrodden, and bring healing to a broken world.
There is one caution with this whole concept; that slat can lose its saltiness; verse 13b:
“But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” vs. 13b
Here’s the point here: in the most technical sense, slat cannot lose it saltiness but it can lose its taste/flavorful, and potency. Jesus tells us what it is good for; to be thrown out and walked on. Here is what he means by that: when salt had lost its “flavor” or when it was no longer useful; they would take the salt and throw it out on the road or path and it would work it’s power, it would kill everything in the path; the weeds, the plants, everything and it would allow people to walk on those paths. You see, even un-salty salt has potency, potency to kill and destroy. It is a destructive element.
You could even make the argument that it is not doing what it was made for, it is working, but working for unproductive purposes.
Transition: We have a choice. We can be a healing, preserving, purifying and enhancing agent, all for God’s glory, or we can be destructive and killing agent that really is “good for nothing.”