Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Salt of the Earth - by Richard Lyons

This post was written by my friend and brother, Richard Lyons, who serves as one of our shepherds as well. 

Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, in chapter 4:5-6, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

 At the end of His Beatitudes, Jesus stated in Matthew 5:13 that His followers were to be the salt and light in the world. The value of salt, especially in the ancient world cannot be under estimated. Roman soldiers received their wages in salt. The Greeks considered salt to be divine. The Mosaic Law required that all offerings presented by the Israelites contain salt. (Lev. 2:13)

So what are the characteristics of salt that caused the Lord to use it in this context? Theologians have different theories about the meaning of “salt”. Some think that its glistening whiteness coming from the sun and sea represents purity. If we are to be salt, we must be an example of purity. In the world, efforts to lower standards of honesty, diligence in work, and morality are going on all the time. The Christian must be the person who holds aloft the standard for purity of speech, conduct and thought. Words cannot be effective unless backed up by pure living.

Others say that salt’s flavoring properties imply that Christians are to add divine flavor to the world. Salt brings out the distinctive flavor of food. The increase of God’s people should likewise increase the flavor of life. By our presence, participation and penetration of society, in our daily contacts in our neighborhood and community, we are to bring the flavor of Christ to an unbelieving world.

Still others believe that Christians are to sting the world with rebuke and judgment the way salt stings an open wound. Another group asserts that, as salt, Christians are to create a thirst for Christ.

Salt, however, has another vital purpose which is to stop decay. When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth,” He meant that all of His disciples were to serve as preservatives, stopping the moral decay in our sin infected world.

Those first disciples would have been intimately familiar with this function of salt. Without refrigeration, the fish that they caught would quickly spoil and rot unless they were packed in salt. Once salted, the fish could be safely stored and then used when needed. The spiritual health and strength of the Christian is to counteract the corruption that is in the world. Christians, as salt, are to inhibit sin’s power to destroy lives. This in turn creates opportunity for the gospel to be proclaimed and received.

We have been given a wonderful privilege to be the salt of the earth, but Jesus gave us a warning. The second half of Matthew 5:13 states: “But if salt loses its taste, how would its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men”. Jesus said that we can lose our saltiness. When salt is contaminated it becomes corrosive and poisonous. If we have allowed disobedience, carelessness and indifference to rule our lives, we have become contaminated salt and have lost our saltiness. We need to confess our sin and let the Lord restore us to the purpose for which we were called.

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