13 ” 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. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most well-known portions of Scripture in the Bible. Jesus began with the Beatitudes (as we call them) and reveals to us the “attitudes” the born again believer should possess. It is interesting His choice of order as recorded in Scripture and that He would begin with “poor in spirit”. As Andrew Murray has said “humility is the soil where all the graces take root”. Humility is the beginning point of our relationship with God as He draws us to Him and we humble ourselves, repent and are born again into the family of God.
With the “beatitudes” we are asked to consider our response to ourselves, to our sin, to others and to God. In other words, we are instructed on how we are to “be” before He instructs us on what we are do. Too often we put the cart before the horse and we “do” first thinking our “doing” will somehow bring into reality what we are supposed “to be”. But the Word of God teaches us that our “doing” should flow out of our “being”. How much time, energy and resources do we waste when we are trying to affect our being by works of righteousness? Could this be why Jesus said to those who did many great works, even in His name, “I never knew you”? (Mt. 7:23)
After the beatitudes, Jesus makes a declaration that believers are the salt of the earth. The true church is the flavoring, preserving and purifying power in the earth. But is there something else we are missing in this metaphor of salt? The scripture tells us in Numbers 2:13 that all the offerings to God were to be seasoned with salt and in Exodus 30:35 that the incense was to be seasoned with salt. In 2 Chronicles 13:5, we find that God made a “salt covenant” with David and this covenant was an eternal covenant. What is a Salt Covenant? In biblical times men carried a pouch of salt on their belts. When two men wanted to make a covenant of loyalty, each would take some salt from his pouch and sprinkle it in the other man’s pouch. Then they stated the terms of their agreement and shook their salt pouches, mingling the grains of salt. Shaking the salt pouches reminded them that the covenant could not be broken, because it was no longer possible to go into the other man’s pouch and retrieve the original salt grains. When someone made a salt covenant with another, they were making a covenant that this relationship was a permanent relationship and that they were in each other’s keeping as friends. Jewish weddings will usually include the “salt covenant” as part of the ceremony to indicate that the union is an eternal union.
I believe Jesus was saying we are in eternal covenant with God in this earth and in that covenant is found the promises and blessings of His Word. It is as we are in relationship with God that we have been “seasoned” with the salt of His covenant, representing the righteousness of Christ in us (I Cor. 1:30). Jesus has made unto us His righteousness, therefore our living sacrifice unto God has been “seasoned with salt” and made acceptable by Christ. It is in this relationship that we can offer up true worship to God and in this relationship that we can offer prayers as incense, seasoned with salt, before the Lord. When we enter into relationship with God through Christ, we have become partakers of that “salt covenant”. And, it is only as we are in relationship with God that we can truly be salt in the earth.
But, we can’t “be” salt in the earth until we “are” salt. It’s not the religious system that is the salt of the earth, but those who are in covenant with God. Salt is one of the most stable compounds in the earth, however, if the compound is broken apart into pure sodium and chlorine, each by itself can be deadly. It is only useful as salt when the covenant is made between the two elements and they join together to become sodium chloride. We are only effective as we have made this covenant with God and stay united with Him in relationship. Apart from God, we can become deadly to ourselves and to others and truly offer no preserving or purifying power in the earth and certainly do not add the savor of our Lord to the earth’s unsavory environment.
So, once salt always salt? No, not really. Jesus said “if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” We can lose our ability to do what we are inherently called to do. Just as salt found in rock salt can lose its “salting” effectiveness due to exposure to the wind, moisture and other contaminates, so can we lose our effectiveness to be the salt of the earth. When our lives are contaminated or diluted with too much exposure to the world, we lose our flavor and become useless to God. It is important that we remain attached to the Rock, Jesus. As we are close to Him, we will be protected from the contamination of the world and rather than being affected by the world we will be the ones who are adding flavor to those around us for His will and glory.