Peace and grace to all who read this—friends, brothers and sisters. I wanted to share something with you that the Lord opened my eyes to just in the last couple of weeks and, as usual, since it was the Spirit of G-d (not my own understanding) revealing it to me, I knew I had to try to convey it while it was fresh.
Up until recently, every time I read or heard the passage in Matthew 5:13-16 about how the disciples of Jesus Christ are supposed to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth,” I admit the latter part has never quite cemented itself in my mind. I am quite aware that I think and perceive things a little differently than others at times; sometimes it’s good and sometimes it can be detrimental. I comprehend the truth and the word picture painted in verses 14-16, but it’s verse 13 that has always left me wanting more in terms of fully grasping it. The Lord is so cool! Praise Him for wanting us to learn more about His kingdom, His ways, for His Holy Spirit who the Father sends in Jesus’ name to teach us all things and to remind us of everything our Lord said. No wonder without Him we are lost.
I was driving back to where I work from an errand I had to run downtown. On the way back, I switched on Moody radio that has good teaching and preaching that I like to listen to when I get a chance. I heard the brother on the program mention our passage briefly. When I heard him say “salt of the earth,” I instantaneously went into familiar question mark mode. Then, just as quickly, the Holy Spirit became my rabbi (teacher) in a very personal way. That day was the cherished day that He pulled back that specific veil of my understanding and allowed my mind and heart to see as He sees!
He took me to a familiar scripture in Revelation 3:15-16 where Christ our Messiah is admonishing the church at Laodicea with these words, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” I never would have connected these two passages (Matthew 5:13-16 and Revelation 3:15-16), but I am so grateful to G-d the Father for showing me the connection. I pray to Him that I can adequately articulate it to you, rather than be a stumbling block. I need You, Lord!
The Lord Jesus Christ is making a comparison between eating or drinking something that should be served best either hot (as in a freshly prepared, oven-baked or pan-cooked meal) or cold (imagine ice-cold tea or water on a hot summer day). But He minces no words in describing what we already know- that if either one is served in such a manner that is room temperature or left over too long, it is no longer palatable. It is no longer enjoyable or appetizing. He goes so far as to say that He would spit it out if it is not useful; it has lost its taste and purpose. The Father reminded me of a verse I have only seen once before and it is tucked away subtly in the sixth chapter and sixth verse of the book of Job, “Can something tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the white of an egg?”
Many times when believers are asked about the qualities of salt, they respond that it gives taste, it stings or cauterizes (as in to sear a wound), and it acts as a preservative. All of these answers are correct. When this is asked of me or I ponder it myself, I come up a little short. How do these answers apply to me (a disciple of Christ, set apart from the world by grace and for His holy purposes)? How am I supposed to be salt? How am I supposed to make the Gospel palatable, without adding to it or taking away from it? How am I supposed to sting? How am I supposed to preserve, and what? But, for the purposes of this post and how the Spirit spoke to me, let me limit myself to the first and second questions which are linked together. How am I (my life) supposed to be a desired flavor?
Let’s go back to the Word of G-d and join the text in Matthew 5:13 together with the one in Revelation 3:16, and paraphrase them. You are from the kingdom, not the world. Your words and actions are supposed to be attractive and savory (winsome). But if you are not, and the things you say and the things you do are no different than the world around you, how will you be useful to Me (Jesus)? Since I have set you apart, cleansed you and created you for My purposes but you are not fit to be used (lost your saltiness), what do I do with you? How will others view Me and my Father? Why will they want to repent (other than by grace), be baptized and walk in newness of life?
Hard questions, huh? I think so, too. Pretty humbling stuff. But it sure begs self-examination, renewed commitment and focus on our Savior. It makes me think of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 3:11-16 which says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed by fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on remains, he will receive a great reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.”
Let’s look again at the properties and effects of salt that we mentioned before so that we can apply them to our lives and assure our usefulness (see 2 Timothy 2:20). First, we see that salt is used to give or add needed flavor to something which is bland. As believers, we know and have experienced repeatedly the savory aspects of G-d’s grace: forgiveness, unconditional love, peace, joy, hope (assurance), promises, wisdom and many other gifts which are all benefits of having a sanctified and transformed heart, mind and life. Our lives prior to our conversion and salvation had no taste- or worse- had a bad taste of which no one would want to partake. But now that G-d has given us a new heart and transformed us so that we now enjoy a salted life, we are to share this Good News of the Gospel of Christ Jesus to give piquancy (pleasantly sharp and appetizing flavor) to the lives of those around us. We are to take the salt of our new lives and use it to dash taste onto and into the currently mild ones of those we know and encounter and search out. That is the Great Commission.
Another wonderful aspect of salt is that, when applied to a wound, it both stings and cauterizes. The stinging characteristic of salt- though at first is unpleasant, to say the least- is quite good. The truth of G-d’s Word introduced into one’s life is a convicting agent. We don’t like to be convicted because it is then we are confronted with the evidence of our guilt and accountability due to sin. Satan’s influence over us presents us with a deadly “fight or flight” strategy. We either fight by getting defensive and trying to justify or rationalize our actions, or we employ the flight method which is to deny it altogether (a lie) and possibly remove ourselves from the “courtroom” by leaving the scene. The enemy doesn’t want to let the salt have its curative effect, which is to stop the bleeding in our lives. He doesn’t want to relinquish control over our lives which leads to death.
The Word of G-d teaches us in John 16:7-8 concerning the Holy Spirit. In it Jesus says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” The Father uses the tool of conviction (an awareness of guilt in your spirit) with the intent of drawing you to Himself; that is the opposite of the devil’s aim. How do we know not to fall for our adversary’s lie when he screams in our minds to run in order not to be caught, making us fear that the just Judge wants to punish and imprison us? Jeremiah 3:13-15 encourages and emboldens us, “Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the Lord your G-d… and that you have not obeyed My voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your Master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
To those who have heard Him calling and resisted, it is not yet too late, though you don’t know how many days He has assigned you to live (Job 14:5), nor do we know the hour the Lord will return as a thief in the night. Heed this word found in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” When we have godly sorrow over our sins, desire forgiveness, repent of our former ways and submit to His Lordship, then our faith in Him and His grace to us cauterize the bleeding. Our lives are made new and the healing can begin. The pain of the salt is a good thing.
And it preserves. Based on how you react to the salt the Lord sprinkles over your life and what condition you are in at the time you receive it can and will determine what it is that is being maintained (preserved). If you are a Christian and are teachable and obedient, the aroma of Christ that is already in you will be enhanced. If you are a nominal believer, its sting may spur you to renewed commitment, or you may remain lukewarm if you respond to it like water off the back of a duck; it rolls right off with no effect. Your idleness will persist. Lastly, if you are an unsaved and unregenerate sinner, you can have flavor you’ve never had. Or you can be preserved in a spoiled state, content to be rotten and inedible. The choice renders its effect. Do you want Jesus to spit you out when He clearly loves you SO much that He died to save you, and He created you with purpose?
Born-again believers, we are the salt… of the earth! We are the flavor of the Messiah. We are the sting and cauterizing agent. We are the preservative. If we don’t have enough love and compassion (the world will not always see it as such), we are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (I know this myself). If we are an earthen vessel (the shaker) which contains the salt but don’t allow the Lord to use us, we lose our saltiness. How can we be made salty again? We are no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. These are our Lord’s words in Matthew 5:13. Of course, we don’t lose our salvation, but is that all we’re in this for?
Father G-d, help us ALL to not only recognize salt when it presents itself, but to receive it gladly and with thanksgiving, allowing it to do its assigned work in us in our current state of a committed Christian, nominal believer, or as-yet-unsaved sinner. Give us, please, wisdom, grace and humility. Amen.