The Salt of the Earth
Just 40 miles long and 10 miles wide, the Dead Sea (long ago called the Salt Sea) is the world’s lowest inhabitable spot on earth. It is 1387 feet below sea level! You can see the northern tip of the Dead Sea from the lookout at Mount Nebo. Its water is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. You don’t want to get it in your eyes! The water is so salty that there is virtually no life it.
We know that David fled from King Saul and hid at Ein Gedi, which is just a walk from the Dead Sea. It was a place of refuge for him. Herod the Great built his famous fortress, Masada, on the shore of the Dead Sea.
When we visit the Dead Sea on our tours, we always include some time to float in the water. It doesn’t take any effort at all to float—in fact, you can’t help it! The water is so rich in minerals that it is said to have healing qualities. The minerals are used for everything from hand creams to fertilizers. If you dig under the water, you can come up with a hand full of mud. If you paste it on your skin and let it dry, after it is washed off, your skin will feel like the skin of a baby.
Just as in the days of Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), salt is harvested from the Dead Sea. In Bible times, salt was very valuable. It was sold in a loaf or small cake that had hardened on the ground. They would pinch the salt from the top until the earth was revealed at the bottom of the loaf. When Jesus spoke about the salt losing its flavor in Matthew 5:13 Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” When He spoke of the salt losing its flavor, he was referring to the salt that clings at the bottom of the loaf.
Jesus was explaining that there is salt that is useful with great effectiveness and there is salt that is useless and thrown away. If you are one of Jesus’ disciples, we need to be the salt that is useful, that is effective and makes an impact and impression on those around us. We are to be the salt of the earth, to make others thirst after the kingdom of heaven, so they are wanting more of the things of God.
Think about salt when it’s used as a preservative. When salt is rubbed into meat, it’s purpose is to slow down decay. I believe one of the points Jesus was making to us about being salt is this - as His disciples, we are to act as a preservative to this world, especially to those entrusted into our care, such as our loved ones. As a preservative, we become sort of a moral disinfectant. We help to keep things fresh and alive. We help to defeat corruption and poisonous decay. We add purity where behavior is questionable. We need to hold on to what we know is true according to the Scripture, and cling to what is right. This is especially important when all around us we see the decline of morals, values, integrity, and when doing the right thing and standing on principles that are timeless are challenged.
As followers of Jesus, we offer encouragement, hope, cheerfulness, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patience, love, going the extra mile, giving a helping hand and so much more. And just like salt adds flavor, it enhances with seasoning whatever it touches, we as believers bring flavor to life. We sprinkle life with the seasoning of Christ’s presence radiating in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus also gives a warning.
Jesus warns us that we are not to lose those characteristics and qualities within us that brings life to this world, that flavors this world, that prevents decay. Because when we do lose our biblical values, our teachings, our morals, our ethics, our character, our integrity, and so on - we do not serve the purpose God has intended for us just like salt is useless if it becomes tasteless and unsalty and cannot perform its intended function. Jesus is saying if you can't be salt that preserves and flavors, you are worthless to Me regarding the kingdom work I’ve called you to do.
Do you remember the old saying how someone might describe another as the salt of the earth? That was a compliment. It was saying this person was a solid citizen, someone you could count on, respectful, useful, possessing great integrity and worth.
Christ challenges us as His followers to be the salt of the earth – to add our flavoring wherever we go. This is why it is so important for us to make sure our behavior is above board. We are to behave like pure white salt, unadulterated by this world, holy in character and honest in our dealings with others. We make sure our language or the stories we tell are not questionable. We are to bring a cheerful spirit to our work environments, while at the same time working diligently and honestly. We offer compassion and kindness, filling needs with those we meet. In a depressed world, we bring the joy of Jesus. In a frightened world looking for answers, we offer the hope of Christ.
As salt, we are not only preservers of that which is good, but we are also agents of change because we want to change that which is about us into something better. As a follower of Christ - your life counts. Who you are and what you do is important. You are the salt of the earth. Through Christ’s Spirit living in you, you are the preserver and the flavorer, the one the Lord uses to make others thirst after righteousness.
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