About four winters ago I was in a well-stocked ironmonger’s shop looking around, mainly looking at tools, which always draw me like a magnet. Unexpectedly, my eye caught sight of a large bag of white salt. The price was reasonable, so I paid my money and walked out out of the shop carrying my bag of salt. When I got it home, I scattered some of the salt on the path in front of the house as a hard frost was forecast. I was amazed the next morning how well it had worked.
It does not require much thought to work our where my thoughts are going: Matthew 5: 13,14: “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”. This verse is found in what we call, the ‘sermon on the mount’, which is Jesus’ most well-known sermon. It is addressed to believers. The first 12 verses of the sermon are taken up with what what we call “The Beatitudes” and a few connected verses. Then we have in verse 13. the very words that we are considering concerning the obligation placed on believers by Christ, to be effective as the salt of the earth. It would be a mistake to disregard the prominent place given by Jesus to this verse in this most well-known sermon: it is the 13th verse in a total of 101 verses. Let us see what it has to say to us.
A little salt added to food has an amazing effect. It brings out the different flavours, as nothing else can. Food without salt can be quite tasteless. However the salt must be mixed in with the food in order to be effective. This teaches us the importance of christians living among non-christians, engaging with them, assisting them where they can, and explaining to them our different way of life and our hope of salvation, whenever the opportunity arrives. These opportunities are rare in the world we live in but we must be continually praying that these will eventually come our way.
Verse 13 also teaches us that we, as the salt of the earth must retain our ‘savour’. This means that we must always keep our souls fresh and lively, and always ready to “give an answer to every man that asks you, a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear ” (1 Peter 3:15). Please notice that phrase. ‘with meekness and fear’. This is the frame of mind that must underlie all our witnessing. There is no place here for a pompous, or superior attitude.
I am glad to tell you that the large bag of salt is now almost empty, but still in use for clearing the path. Its ‘savour’ is not as strong as it was four years ago. It will not do another year, because it will have lost its saltiness.
How important is the exhortation given to us in this verse? We know it so well, that we are in danger of becoming over-familiar with it. Perhaps if we continually remind ourselves of the prominent place given to it, near the beginning of the ‘sermon on the mount’, then we might be helped to apply the exhortation in our own lives and witness continually, and not lose our ‘savour’.