Be a Salty Christian
June 3, 2018
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon by request at email@example.com. Please ask for “Salty Christians 2018”.
INTRO VIDEO CLIP: Deep Thoughts from a Shallow Christian: Salt of the Earth version (51 sec.)
TEXT: Matthew 5:13 – “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
There are many references to salt in the scriptures. In studying for this message, I found 43 references to salt in my concordance.
• We know that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.
• David won two battles over the Edomites, as did Amaziah a little later, in the Valley of Salt, thought to have been a large area of salt marshes in a desert valley in Israel
(2 Samuel 8:13; 1 Chronicles 18:12).
• The Bible also refers to the Salt Sea several times, known today as the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea has the highest concentration of salt of any body of water in the world. In fact, the concentration of salt in the Dead Sea is ten times greater than any sea or lake on earth. Every liter of its water contains an average of 30 grams of salts and other minerals. This concentration is so great that no animal or plant can exist there. It’s impossible for a human being to sink in such salty water.
Did you know that nobody has ever committed suicide there by drowning?
Illus. – It was said that Vespucian, commander of the Roman legion that later destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, heard of this claim and tested it by ordering slaves to be thrown into the Dead Sea bound hands and feet. – All the slaves floated, and once able to right themselves, they all survived.
There are many other references to salt in the Bible.
Salt is a remarkable substance. It’s one of the necessary substances to sustain life. No form of animal life can exist without it. Salt is indeed a very important compound—one that you probably have taken for granted.
In our text, Jesus says, “You [speaking of believers] are the salt of the earth…” Now, in order to understand what Jesus is teaching, I think it would do us well to look at what salt is good for and how it is used. Once we see how salt is used, we can better understand what Jesus is trying to teach us. So let’s study salt today and draw some spiritual applications for our lives.
I. FIRST, SALT MAKES FOOD MORE PLEASURABLE
Illus. – A few years back I tried to get completely off of salt after reading articles that forcasted my imminent demise if I didn’t get off salt forthwith. Well, it was a MISERABLE EXISTENCE to say the least but I stuck with it!
After a month on no extra salt, I was okay with most foods without adding salt. Then one Saturday morning, I woke up and Susan had fixed me a good old-fashioned Southern breakfast—eggs, bacon, biscuits and grits!
Oh—have MERCY! The bacon was great…because it’s loaded with salt anyway. The eggs were gross without salt, but I made a valiant effort to get it down. No problem with the biscuits because I don’t put salt on biscuits anyway.
But the GRITS!!!…They were terrible! I’d just as soon eat cardboard as eat grits without salt. That’s probably why all you Northerners out there don’t like grits. You’re Mama gave you some plain old grits with nothing on it. She was deliberately trying to turn you against the South!
Plain grits are terrible, intolerable, unbearable! But you put a load of butter in it till it melts and put plenty of salt and pepper in it, and mmm-mmm—you’ve gotten a taste of HEAVEN! But without salt, SAND probably tastes better than grits!
Why?—Because some things are just no good at all without salt. Just enough salt makes all kinds of food JUST RIGHT.
Now, in my church in Wiesbaden we had a nutritionist and I told that illustration and after church she came up and gave me a lecture on the dangers of salt, so let me give hasten to say that though some salt is necessary for life, too much salt is actually harmful. But in moderation and when used properly, salt is a wonderful seasoning that makes food more tasteful and more pleasurable.
And that’s just the way we as Christians ought to be—we ought to be a blessing to others. We ought to season their lives.
Illus. – The saltiest Christian I ever knew was the pastor I was first assistant pastor under, Bob Cook. Everything that came out of his mouth was encouraging, uplifting, inspiring. He made you feel like you were the most important person he knew. And he never complained or was critical of others.
Years later I had invited him to come over to do a marriage seminar at our church in Wiesbaden. After a great week, I took him to the airport to go home. We had gotten caught in traffic, so we were late to the airport.
Then there was a problem with his ticket at the American Airlines counter. He had to stand in three separate lines and see three separate clerks, and all the while the clock was ticking. Yet not one time did he ever become impatient or unkind. In fact, he went out of his way to bring a little sunshine into each of the airline representatives’ lives. He complimented each one on their efficiency and professionalism. He told one how helpful she had been and requested a comment card so he could share what a good job she had done.
Bob Cook is a salty Christian.
How about you? Are you a salty Christian? Do you bring joy and sunshine and encouragement wherever you are, or are you a perpetual rain cloud, constantly roaming around looking for someone to shower your negativism and critical spirit on?
It was Bob Cook who always used to say, “Some people are a blessing WHEREVER they go; others are a blessing WHENEVER they go.” (Amen?!) God wants us to be a blessing WHEREVER we go.
God wants us to season life.
We’re salty Christians when we show forth the love of Christ to others; when we’re kind and loving and gentle and encouraging and uplifting and edifying. The opposite of this is when we are critical, or negative or when we discourage others or tear them down. God help us to be salty Christians who add flavor to life and make it more enjoyable. People who are a blessing WHEREVER they go!
This is especially important with our speech.
• Colossians 4:6 says “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
• God help us to have speech that is always grace-giving; always seasoned with salt…so that it makes people’s lives more pleasurable and so that we have reputations that are testimonies of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
The poorest advertisement for Christianity in all the world is a sour Christian. Be a salty Christian; not a sour one!
II. THE SECOND THING WE SEE ABOUT SALT IS THAT IT HOLDS BACK DECAY.
In ancient times salt was important for survival, and one reason was that it was the only way they had to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration. Salt was rubbed into meat before it was stored, which hindered the process of decay. And we too function in this world to hold back the decay of sin and evil and to act as a preservative of what is good and wholesome and healthy and righteous.
Illus. – A Peanuts cartoon showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.”
He said, “My fault? Why do you say everything’s my fault?”
She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”
In his book, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born, James Kennedy points out the wonderful positive influence Christians have had on the world:
Christianity has in fact had a profound positive effect on the world. The most dramatic impact of Christianity on the world is that it has attached new value to human life. Prior to Christianity infanticide, and abandonment of children was a common practice. Hospitals as we now know them began through influence of Christianity. The Red Cross was started by an evangelical Christian. Almost every one of the first 123 colleges and universities in the United States has Christian origins, founded by Christians for Christian purposes. The same could be said of orphanages, adoption agencies, humane treatment of the insane, the list goes on and on of dramatic impact of Christianity in our world.
Christians continue to have a positive influence on our world by keeping the corruption of society at by their lives and their words and what they stand for.
But there’s a tragic new trend today. George Barna’s, the church statistician, says that research shows that, “… the average Christian in the average church is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. The fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live, is missing. When our teens we claim to be saved, get pregnant and do drugs at the same rate as the general teenage population—when the marriages of Christians end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society—when Christians cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians - something is horribly wrong.”
If we as Christians lose the qualities of Christlikeness that make us distinct and become like the society around us, we no longer impact our world around us. We become a hindrance instead of a preservative.
God help us to be salt in our circle of influence by being a preservative against sin and evil and corruption. We ought to be a preservative that holds back decay. As the world around us rushes headlong into sin, our little corner of the world ought to be influenced for righteousness by the kind of life we live.
There are many opportunities for us to be salty in this way. Just living a clean, holy Christian life and not participating in the world’s sinful activities that dishonor the Lord can be a powerful influence.
God help us to be salty Christians!
III. HERE’S ONE MORE THING SALT DOES: SALT CREATES THIRST
I’d like for you to participate in a little mental experiment with me. Suppose you go home after church and eat a whole large bag of potato chips or salted pretzels without drinking anything. That would be pretty hard wouldn’t it? Why?—Because those snacks are salty, and salt creates thirst.
If we’re living Christ-like lives, we’ll make others thirst for Jesus—the Living Water.
Illus. – When I pastored in Wiesbaden, I used to take my family to the Pizza Hut downtown every Sunday night after church to unwind after a long day at church. There was a lovely Irish woman who was the waitress there who was living with her German boyfriend. She saw us come in every Sunday night week in and week out.
One night the World Cup was playing and everyone was home watching the game except our family. So having some extra time on her hands, she sat down at our table and we started talking.
She said in her unique Irish brogue, “You know, I’m not a Christian, but if I became one, I would go to your church.”
I had invited her to church many times, but this was the first time she opened up about God, faith and spiritual things. I said, “Well, that’s very kind of you, but why do you say that?”
She said, “Because you guys are what I always pictured Christians should be like. You all always seem to be so appy and…” then she seemed at a loss for words as she sought to find the right way to express what she was trying to say. She continued “You seem to be so…fulfilled; that’s the way I’d put it. And you are always kind to me, treating me like I’m really somebody, not a pile of rubbish like many of our customers. And you always tip well.”
It was a slow night at Pizza Hut and I saw a strategic opportunity to share the Gospel with her for just a few moments. That night she listened carefully and seemed very open. She didn’t come to Christ that night, and a little later she and her boyfriend split up and she decided to return to Ireland and we never saw her again.
But if I see her in heaven someday, I believe it might partly be because of a family who tried to be salt in somebody’s life by the way we treated her and by the way we tried to live our lives.
We were salt in her life, by her own confession, making her thirsty for the Living Water.
Illus. – In Evangelism as a Lifestyle, author Jerry Bridges tells a story from his time as a missionary to Brazil. While there, he met a university political science student named Juan who was being swayed to become a Communist.
In their conversation, Jerry invited Juan over to his house to discuss the Bible. Juan came to Jerry’s house and met his sweet wife and little boy and had a pleasant meal with his family. Afterwards he agreed to meet once a week with Jerry to discuss spiritual things.
After two years of this weekly Bible study, Juan became a Christian. Several years later Jerry asked Juan when it was he finally decided to become a Christian. His answer startled him: Juan said he had decided to become a Christian THE DAY HE FIRST CAME FOR THAT MEAL IN JERRY’S HOME.
He went on to explain that he had never seen a man and his family relate to one another the way Jerry’s did. He desperately wanted to know what they had that made them so gentle and loving and caring and supportive of one another.
You see, it wasn’t Jerry’s brilliant Bible exposition for two years that won Juan, though they answered his intellectual questions and settled the decision of his heart as time went by. It was three Christians whose lives were salty and made Juan thirst for the Water of Life that Jerry and his family had.
Believer, are you a salty Christian? Do you make life more pleasurable and enjoyable for others through a positive, uplifting, praiseful, kind, gentle, Christ-like spirit? Do you stand for righteousness and have an influence for good and hold back the decay of this sin-ridden world? Do you live such that as others watch the way you live, they get thirsty for Jesus Christ?
Look what Jesus said – “…but 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 under foot of men.” For a long time I never understood what Jesus meant here. How can salt lose its savor or lose its saltiness? Isn’t salt always salty, no matter what happens to it? If so, how could it ever lose its saltiness or its savor? I didn’t understand what Jesus meant.
But now I understand it: Whereas the Phoenicians obtained salt from the Mediterranean Sea by evaporation, in salt pans, producing pure salt, the Hebrews had access to an unlimited supply on the shores of the Dead Sea and in the Hill of Salt, a 15-square-mile elevation located at the southwest corner of the Dead Sea. This salt was of the rock variety, and because of impurities and the occurrence of chemical changes, the outer layer lacked flavor because it was mostly other impurities and did not really contain much salt. Most of this kind of salt was discarded as worthless and used as gravel along paths, roads and trails.
This is what Jesus was referring to in our text. In fact, the phrase, “have lost his savor” is really one verb in the Greek which literally means “to be tainted.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “…if the salt becomes tainted or impure, it becomes worthless, having no value other than to be spread out on the ground to be walked and trampled on.” He was saying that if our lives become tainted by the world or sin, we lose our effectiveness; we lose our value to influence; we’re no longer salty Christians.
Dear Christian brother or sister, how about you? Are you a contaminated Christian or a salty saint? Are you tainted by sin, or your self-will, or the world, or materialism, or a lack of surrender, or by anything else? God help us all to become salty Christians who never lose our savor.