Staying salty

Posted Jun 26, 2020

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Daily Scripture

Matthew 5:13

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet.

Reflection Questions

Most of us think of salt casually. It’s that white stuff in a shaker (unless we prefer the gourmet pink types, or even more exotic salts from special places). It’s not terribly expensive. Yet we miss it if it’s not there when we’re ready to dig into a baked potato or some other food when our taste buds expect salt. And, for most of us, it’s just a fact: salt makes most things taste better. But we need to remember that, in Jesus' day, no one went to the market and bought a cheap container of Morton’s salt.

  • In Jesus’ day, there were no refrigerators. So people used salt to preserve food as much or more as to flavor it. Part of Jesus’ message was that his followers, “the salt of the earth,” should live in ways that "preserve" life’s God-intended goodness. In what ways are you living out your faith in a fashion that helps to preserve our world’s goodness and keep things from spoiling?
  • Scholar John Stott also noted that “what was then popularly called ‘salt’ was a white powder (perhaps from around the Dead Sea) which, while containing sodium chloride, also contained much else, since…there were no refineries….the sodium chloride was probably the most soluble component and so the most easily washed out. The residue of white powder still looked like salt… but it neither tasted nor acted like salt. It was just road dust.”* What steps can you take to ensure that the culture around you does not “wash out” the effects of your loyalty to Christ?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, in these turbulent times, guide my influence to work to preserve all the good in the world, in people. Help me to make this world “taste better” for all those who know me. Amen.


* John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978, p. 60.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

As we consider today’s passage, I thought it might be helpful to “visit’ with Mr. Ronald Saff, owner & proprietor of “Spice Guys.”

DL: Mr. Saff, what can you tell us about your operation?

Saff, Ron: Welcome! Or as we like to say around here, “Season’s Greetings!” Please call me Ron. When we started I knew that packaging was the key to successfully selling spices. I figured if I could just put thyme in a bottle, we’d really have a hit. We manufacture & distribute over 102 spices – everything from Almond Extract to Zaatar Spice.

DL: Wow, you could say you are a man for all seasons.

Saff, Ron: Indeed. So, you wanted to know specifically about salt. Well, salt has a fascinating history.

  • Ancient Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt. The word salary & salt comes from the same Latin word sal. The old idiom, “you aren’t worth your salt” meant you weren’t earning your pay. (The city of Venice became a thriving metropolis thanks to the salt trade.)
  • During the frontier days in the early 1800’s, salt was so valuable it was 4 times as expensive as beef.
  • In the culinary world, salt generally has 3 characteristics: It can purify food, it can preserve food, & it can enhance the flavor of food.
  • And you know, I’ve heard that there is even a religious sect that is devoted to salt. They are called the Salt Shakers.

DL: Um. I’m not so sure about that last point. But what’s interesting to me is that Jesus doesn’t tell His audience that you “should strive to be” or “someday you will be” the salt of the earth. Rather, He plainly tells them, “You are the salt of the earth.” What do you think of this passage?

Saff, Ron: Well, this is extremely high praise. Jesus is telling His audience that they represent the best & brightest of their communities. If I were in the audience, I’d probably be shuffling my feet & looking around thinking, “Really? We are the cream of the crop? We are the ones you are counting on to build the Kingdom of God? Uh, Jesus, you do have a back-up plan, right?” I mean His crowds were just average folks, filled with tired Moms & Dads, restless teens, & older people who thought their grandkids were spending way too much time on their papyrus scrolls.

DL: Agreed. But Jesus was confident in His followers then and He’s just as confident in us. Jesus is well aware that any movement toward an earthly Kingdom of God is going to be based on ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary love. We are the best hope to fix our broken world. But, if we are to live up to the title of Salt of the Earth, we have some work to do:

  • Like salt, we are going to need to be pure & stand apart. Not in some haughty, holier-than-thou-way, but rather by showing an unfathomable capacity to forgive, a shocking ability to love, & demonstrating an inexplicable aura of peace.
  • Like salt, we are going to need to preserve our faith by growing in our knowledge daily, by earnestly praying for ourselves & others, & by sharing the love of Christ to the next generation of believers.
  • Like salt, we are going to need to enhance our world, striving to make it a bit better each & every day. It could be by blessing every person we encounter, be it through a smile, a simple gesture of kindness, or pausing to sincerely ask, “How are you?”

In short, we are going to have to ask ourselves, “Have we earned our salt today?”

Saff, Ron: That’s awesome. Whoa. Look at the time. I have to lead a plant tour for my Junior Achievement group. They are students interested in the history of spices & their applications today.

DL: Thank you for your time. By the way, what is your youth group called?

Saff, Ron: The Salt Teens.

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