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 (Matthew 5:13 KJV)
There are three principal truths Jesus emphasized in the salt parable: we are salt, salt losing its saltiness, and having salt in ourselves.
Before discussing what “salt of the earth” means, let us begin with an understanding of salt itself in this parable. Salt in ancient Israel was used as a seasoner, preservative, or fertilizer. It was a valuable commodity for households and farmers. Therefore “salt is good” (Mark 9:50). It has good and beneficial effects when applied to food or farmland.
Besides its beneficial effects, Jesus also mentioned the critical property of salt that makes it salt. He calls this characteristic “saltiness” or “savour.” This essential feature of salt, its saltiness, not only defines salt but is what makes salt beneficial. So, without saltiness, salt is useless: it won’t make any food taste good or fertilize any piece of land.
With this cultural background well known to His audience, Jesus said to the disciples, “you are the salt of the earth.” His disciples—the people—are the salt, their saltiness is the good or godly influence, and their environment is mainly the people around them. As Jesus’s disciples, we salt the earth by exerting a godly influence on those around us: changing hearts, transforming lives, reducing the reprehensible acts of sin, sweetening life with the joys and peace of righteous deeds, displaying God’s love, making the world a better place.
Without salt in ancient Israel, food was unseasoned or sour, and the soil was unfertilized (at least in part). For an Israelite living in ancient Palestine, life without delicious food or productive farms was not good. But Jesus dealt with a situation worse than the absence of salt, and that deplorable state is salt that is present but cannot salt anything. Salt without saltiness raises expectations but fails to deliver, and it also becomes a burden to the people who must seek ways to dispose of the useless substance.
The world, by default, dislikes Christ and His Church, but it abhors an impotent Church. When the believer, congregation, or Church loses their saltiness, evil putrefies the surrounding culture as stale food. Furthermore, such a powerless Church becomes a religious nuisance to the world—it abounds with what people should and should not do but fails to solve their pressing problems or concerns in life.
We are graced with the ability to salt people’s lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, suppose we embrace a form of godliness and deny its power or slump into spiritual complacency. In that case, we will lose our saltiness and become a religious nuisance to the world around us.
What does it mean to salt your world based on the devotional above?
Apply the Word
What is the influence of your life on the people you interact with? The answer to that question measures how much you are salting the earth. Jesus says “have salt” in yourself—seek to bring taste to people’s lives, rescue them from the putrefying effects of sin and evil, and fertilize their lives to grow into the destiny God reserved for them.
Thank the Father for the privilege of making us the salt of the earth.