Salt is a mineral used for millennia for preserving meat. If it is not used, the meat gets rotten and inedible. It is also used as a seasoning, often with pepper. They go together. In Matthew and Mark Jesus speaks of being salty. This means being a seasoning, something that enhances or flavors the conversation and life. Do not be dull He is saying. There are a lot of dull Christians out there. As well, it seems, there are many who are afraid to share the good news. Paul tells the Colossian Christians, “Let your conversation be always full of grace and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Seasoning makes something stand out. Sometimes it stands out too sharply. That is why the admonition to be full of grace, which is the redemptive or caring, forgiving and life giving character of Christ. Don’t be afraid to give the reason for the hope that is within you, but do it with gentleness and respect. It is in this manner that salt brings peace with one another. Calling out someone's sin just does not help very often. One pastor recently said, “When you are perfect, throw the first stone.”
“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). Mark’s Gospel has a similar proverb from Jesus, but ends with, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50). Salt has an image of wisdom.
James, Jesus’ brother, spoke about the tongue a lot. He talked about its small size, but yet with the power to start forest fires and turn ships, even with boasting. With the tongue we praise and curse. “Can both fresh and salt water flow from the same spring? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (James 3:11,12). James is talking about speech that hurts, intentionally or not. People often say, after letting loose with a zinger. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Really? What was the motivation of your heart? Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:5 tells us that the Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motivations of men’s hearts. David asks the Lord in Psalm 139 to search his heart for wrong motivations or fears and to lead him in the way everlasting. James again in 4:3 says that we do not hear from God sometimes because we ask for the wrong motive. In other words, we ask for selfish reasons, not for the needed truth.
Perhaps the most important and useful application of salt comes for healing. Leviticus 2:13 says to put salt in all your grain offerings, to keep it from rotting or corrupting it. The writer says to not leave the salt of the covenant with God out. The covenant of God is for redemption and healing of the nations and the souls of men; healing from sin and forgiveness of trespasses. Salt was valuable and God’s promises in covenant are invaluable, imperishable and perfect.
So share the good news with saltiness. If you don’t use it, the salt becomes worthless and can be trampled under foot like it was in Carthage to waste the land destroyed. We are to be the moral preservatives of the world. So go out and act like it!