Summary: This sermon portrays the value of salt in our spiritual and physical lives.
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
There is a saying that is often told that:
‘You are what you eat.’
If that is the case then I reckon I’m going to turn into a Chicken!!
As a result of ill health, my diet has been drastically reduced of late. I can’t eat fatty foods, dairy products, fibre, and when it comes to meat the only type I can safely eat is Chicken. So my wife, Clair, keeps looking closely at me to see whether I am starting to grow feathers and strutting around a bit!!
Food issues, over the past 40 years have always made the news, especially when it comes to what foods are, or are not good for us. Potatoes went out of fashion until a piece of research proved that we need Carbohydrates in our diet, and so potatoes came back into favour.
The same has been said about ‘Salt’. Medical research found that there was a link to heart diseases whenever there was excess salt in the diet. Massive health promotion campaigns were introduced in which salt was made out to be the baddy, and recommendations were given for salt to be removed, or at least drastically reduced from the diet.
However later medical research indicated that our bodies need salt to function properly, and the best way that body can obtain salt is through our food intake.
Even the British Heart Foundation stated that:
‘Salt is an essential part of our diet’.
Although they do qualify this statement by adding:
‘But like everything else it should be taken in moderation.’
A body that goes without salt deteriorates and is likely to get muscle cramps, nausea and lowered resistance to infection.
Lack of salt contributed to the nightmarish conditions of Napoleon’s 1812 retreat from Russia. Thousands of his soldiers died when their salt-starved bodies could no longer resist disease or infection.
So we see that salt is very important to the body, and especially so at the time of Jesus. He lived in a hotter climate than we do and salt was particularly precious.
It was so important that it became part of the language and history of the peoples of that world. In ancient Rome salt was so valuable that it was doled out to Caesar’s soldiers as part of their pay, called ‘Salarium’, from which our word ‘salary’ is derived.
In some areas where salt was scarce it was traded ounce for ounce for Gold.
And in Ancient Greece it was even common to exchange salt for slaves, which resulted in the phrase ‘not worth his salt’.
During Shakespeare’s time salt was still a very precious commodity, and during that time those of high status within a household were allowed to sit closest to the salt on the dinner table, perhaps because they used their fingers to dip into the salt and thus didn’t want contaminate their food.
I have mentioned all of these points merely to provide a background to the saying of Jesus we read in Matthew 5:13
“You are the salt of the earth”
I’d like us today to consider three aspects of ‘Salt’ and see how they can be applied to us as Christians today.
The first of these three aspects is Purity.