The new you… salt of the earth
“You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13a)
Jesus identifies His disciples with salt. This is what they ARE – in this world, in which they live. But what does He mean by this characterization?
Most of us have connected this phrase with the obvious. Salt is a preservative and salt is a flavoring agent for our food. These things are true. God’s people are called to be a preservative of purity in all cultures and societies; and God’s people are called to bring a zest and flavor to living.
But Jesus’ words go much deeper.
We must remember that His words were spoken to Jewish people who would have understood them from a Jewish perspective. Salt had very specific meanings to them – engrained into them for centuries.
To rightly understand Jesus’ reference to “salt,” we need to understand what it would have meant to those who first heard His words…
The underlying understanding of “salt” has it’s basis in the principles of purity, integrity, consecration, and truth.
God commanded salt to be included in Old Testament sacrificial offerings (Lev. 2:13). This meant that salt was to be understood as an integral part in covenant relationship. In fact, in many ancient middle-eastern cultures, salt was a vital part of their covenants with each other (as a symbol of indelible commitment and loyalty to one another). At the heart of a “salt covenant” was the understanding of friendship, fidelity, and loyalty.
Under the Old Covenant, newborn babies were salted (referenced in Ezekiel 16:4). This signified not only cleansing – but also a covenant pledge to raise the child to have integrity, honesty, and to BE truthful.
In the New Testament, Jesus commands us to “Have salt in youselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50) Salt refers to our commitments to each other – to build up, not to tear down. We are to live in such a way that everything we do and say reflects our commitment to the purity and integrity of our relationships.
In Colossians 4:6, the apostle commands that we have our speech “seasoned with salt.” He is referring to words that bring life and encouragement to the ones to whom we are speaking – words that edify and impart God’s wisdom and truth.
So we see these principles in Jesus’ reference to BEing the salt of the earth: We are the ones consecrated to God. We live our lives in integrity and honesty. We are truthful and committed to our relationships. And we live to impart God’s blessing and wisdom wherever we find our selves.
This is the new you – God has placed us here to live as examples of Heaven’s highest and noblest standards. To BE the salt of the earth!
Prayer focus: God, help me to BE the salt of the earth, everywhere I go.