“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:5-6
“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 by men.” – Matthew 5: 13
I love this! This metaphor of salt is multifaceted and profound. It is clear that God wants us to be salty. What does that mean though? Salt has many uses, and it was arguably more important during ancient times than it is today. I would like to focus on two main uses, preservation and flavor.
The use of salt to preserve food goes back thousands of years. Before refrigeration salt was the primary way to keep meat and fish from spoiling, so that it could be eaten safely for several months beyond procurement. In much the same way, Christ’s love has preserved our hearts. Evil exists within each of us. The salt of God protects our hearts from the evil within and the evil in the world. In the same way that salt drives out and keeps out bacterial growth, the love of Christ drives out and keeps out evil and sin. When I find myself falling prey to the desires of my flesh and the distractions of this world, it is always during times when I am not spending time with Jesus. When I move away from the salt of Christ, I start losing my saltiness.
My favorite use of salt is to flavor food. There have been so many times when I go to take a bite of a delicious sauce, only to find that it is bland. The bolognese might be loaded with herbs, meat, ripe tomatoes, onions, and garlic, but without the aforementioned white flavor crystals, the taste falls short. My wife has recently decided to double the salt in her chocolate chip cookie recipe. My taste buds have yet to quit celebrating. There is no doubt in my mind that salt brings a dish to life. It enhances the other flavors and ties all of the ingredients together.
Jesus is the salt of life. His love, peace, joy, passion, strength, patience, and Gospel adds meaning and flavor to life. No wonder there is so much depression and suicide in the world. Life without the salt of Christ is boring, bland, terrifying, overwhelming, and confusing. The amazing thing is that we have been granted enough salt to share with others. When we live life alongside nonbelievers, we continually have opportunities to give of our saltiness. This is what Christ has called us to do. This is also why Christians are not exempted from the trials and stresses of this world. God creates moments for us to show how His saltiness has preserved our peace and joy, regardless of how crazy life gets. So what happens if we lose our saltiness? We react to failures and struggles the same way that the world does. God’s power and glory is not displayed. We must seek Christ first every day in order to receive a heaping helping of His saline solution.
While we are encouraged to season our conversations with salt, it must not be overlooked that Christ wants our conversations to be full of grace. Have you ever eaten something that was too salty. It is a travesty. I love homemade ice cream. It is so perfectly fitting on a hot summer afternoon sitting in the shade. On one occasion a participant in my family’s ice cream churning process forgot to fully seal the lid of the ice cream container, and some rock salt made its way into the creamy mixture. We all ate our icy bowls of frozen desert with a sense of sadness and regret. The salt was overwhelming. How can something so delicious as homemade ice cream be unpalatable? It was too salty.
Our interactions with each other and nonbelievers have a commonality with this. If all we do is overwhelm people with the truth of Christ, it actually turns them off to his goodness and love. When my wife was growing up, she had several interactions with Christians that left a bad taste in her mouth. Two of these consisted of adults grilling her with questions and peppering her with pressure about her faith. She was not a Christian at the time, and the intense badgering by those who professed their love of Jesus while acting aggressively convinced her for many years that Christianity was not for her. If the actions of these believers is representative of Christ’s love, then why should she want to be a part of such a bullying enterprise? If we allow Jesus to salt our lives just right, the balanced flavor will introduce others to the amazing feeling of dwelling in the presence of God.
Sometimes I think I am too salty. An overpowering judgementalism results from this, leading me to get angry with myself and society. Other times I think I am not salty enough. I become of this world instead of simply living in this world as the Bible instructs. The solution is simple, but not always easy to consistently implement. I must daily submit myself to Christ. I must daily seek Him and rest in his love. I must visit the source of salt through prayer, worship, and the studying of scripture. Chefs may get their salt from Morton or the sea, but I get mine from Christ.