“Don’t salt it ‘til you’ve tried it!”
That was my mom’s motto when it came to table salt. It was as if it was an insult to her cooking if we got to the table and needed salt.
But when I got married, I discovered that my new hubby starts every meal by salting his entire plate. He’s a non-discriminatory salter. It took some adjustment in our early years for me to understand that his salt consumption didn’t mean my cooking was deficient!
Salt can be good for so many things. It can bring out hidden flavors baked into a dish. Prevent meat from spoiling. Induce certain chemical reactions. Keep roads safe in the winter time.
I was chatting with a friend this week about the verse in the Bible that references salt. It’s found in Matthew 5:13.
“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 underfoot.”
We were discussing what it meant to be salt in all areas of our lives, but more specifically in the workplace. We need to be those equal opportunity salters in all areas of life!
But as I thought this through, I realized that I had no clue what it meant for salt to lose it’s saltiness. Obviously the Bible is talking metaphorically, but for the metaphor to make sense, I jumped over to Google to find some answers to that question. An article posted by a food production company gave me some answers.
Salt, in its purest form, is a naturally occurring compound- NaCl- and does not lose it’s flavor or saltiness. But the salt we use today is said to have a shelf life of approximately 5 years. What causes the breakdown? This article cites two causes- additives and exposure.
The table salt we most commonly use is not pure NaCl. There are several different chemicals added to it, the most popular one being iodine. These chemicals break down, and since they are so intertwined with the salt, it causes a break down in the salt as well.
Another issue is exposure, mainly to metals or moisture. This kind of exposure brings in other elements that can harm the salt and cause it to lose it’s flavor over an extended period of time.
This got me thinking about that passage found in Matthew 5. I think the same can be said for me and you. As believers, we are given the gift of eternal life, the Holy Spirit, and so much more. But what’s happened to Christians today to make us so ineffective? I would argue the same two issues- additives and exposure.
Additives aren’t always a bad thing. Like in salt, iodine is a good thing. But too much of it can jeopardize the integrity of the salt itself. In our own lives, we can add in things that aren’t necessarily bad, and end up prioritizing those things over the gospel. In an effort to add in good things to our lives, we can end up holding ourselves and others to standards that are not healthy. This is legalism. Church attendance, how we raise our kids, schooling, movies standards, brands we won’t support, politics, etc.
Don’t hear me saying that church attendance is ‘whatever’, and it doesn’t matter what movies we watch. They are very important to the health of a believer. But it’s not the salt we were saved to share with others. And when those things become our focus, the salt of the gospel of Jesus is less appealing to the world.
On the flip side, exposure can damage the effect we have on the world. Prolonged exposure to sin, bad thinking, errant Biblical teaching, or other bad habits can start to lessen our saltiness. When we claim to be one thing, but the sinful habits that this world throw at us permeate our lives, the flavor is confusing to the unbelieving world, and our words don’t have the effect that they should have.
This is why it is so important that we protect our message. Just like salt exposed to moisture for too long, our message can clump up and become ineffective. Like tasteess salt.
Where do you find yourself in these two categories? I personally see evidence of both in my own life. I try to contribute to my own salvation to make it a better, fuller salvation. But I also see things that I know are dangerous, but I haven’t had the courage to boot out yet.
Lets start today, recognizing and course correcting when we find those additives and exposures that are costing us our flavor in the eyes of the world.
“We should not ask, ‘What is wrong with the world?’ for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, ‘What has happened to salt and light?’.” (John Stott)