Summary: When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” He is speaking of our conduct and character while yet living in this sin-cursed world. He is saying we are different or we ought to be different and live different than the rest of the world.
“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.” (NIV.)
Salt is a very precious commodity, especially during ancient times. It was so important that Traders were willing to travel hundreds of miles to buy and sell salt. Salt mining today is very dangerous; in fact there is a metaphor that people often like to use, “back to the salt mines” inferring that your workplace is somehow like a dangerous salt mine where lowly prisoners or the extremely unpaid labor both day and night.
In the ancient salt mines salt had to be mined by hand with picks and shovels and was very corrosive to the body, during this time life expectancy for miners was very short. Because of this, the salt was very expensive and extremely rare. Salt mining today involves the high technology of what is known as “Deep-shaft mining” today salt is harvested through solar evaporation from seawater or salt lakes which should give us an idea of just how important salt is in the world today, because people go through great lengths to obtain this particular white substance or compound. And so it is no small compliment when Jesus calls you and I, “The Salt of the Earth.”
He is saying to us that we are of great worth and reliability. We are or we should be devoted, loyal, earnest, and honest. The kind of person who lives a life that should be emulated by others, thus a role model to and for the world. You may have heard someone while introducing another say, “He or she is the ‘salt of the earth.’ What a wonderful compliment to receive! However, when Jesus says ‘you are the salt of the earth’ at the same time He is also acknowledging the fact that the earth is in need of seasoning. I cannot tell a lie, and most certainly while I am standing behind this pulpit—I love salt on almost everything I eat. If anyone should follow me after church on Sunday you may come to the conclusion that the old stereo-type of Baptist preachers loving fried chicken must be true. But I refuse to eat fried chicken, fried fish, or french fries unless I have access to a salt shaker. I need a little pepper too, but not as much as I need my salt.
I know too much salt is not good for you—but for sure salt is my number one favorite seasoning. Why? Because I’ve discovered when I use salt during my breakfast, lunch, and dinner moments –it changes things. It enhances my dining experience, it adds more flavor to my meal, thus making my meal more enjoyable. There is so much in this parable, but the main idea I believe is distinctiveness. There is something different about salt when compared to the other compounds. There is something different both by nature, and by purpose.
Salt Has Power
When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” He is speaking of our conduct and character while yet living in this sin-cursed world. He is saying we are different or we ought to be different and live different than the rest of the world. Because as a Christian our character is just salt, and our conduct is also just like salt—salt is not like the compounds. We are not like the world, we don’t enjoy or at least we shouldn’t enjoy everything that the world enjoys. In fact, not only are you called salt, you are even designed (made) to be the salt of the earth. And I don’t know about you but like being called salt by Jesus. I heard someone say that He was not speaking to us; He was speaking to His disciples. My answer to this is—we are His disciples! We’re not Peter, James, and John but we are still His disciples as long as we live by His Words, “If You Abide in My Word, You are My Disciples Indeed”—John 8: 31. Therefore, I love the fact that Jesus calls those of us who love Him—salt. I love it because it gives us distinction and it also gives us power. Have you ever considered the power of salt? The power of salt derives from its difference. One of the differences is the healing power in salt, it has two elements sodium and chloride, and thus salt is also known as sodium chloride. Salt is important to our health because body cells must have salt in order to live and work, it has antiseptic or germ killing properties. Believe or not the world, the unbelievers are able to live on this earth because of those of us who are the salt of the earth, for example, if there had been one righteous person found, Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared.