Christians are called upon to make a difference in this dark and sinful world. In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ used the metaphors of salt and light to highlight the important role of believers in the world: “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. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5: 13-16).
Salt was an important commodity in ancient times. Biblical references to salt are found mostly in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses required that sacrifices to Yahweh be seasoned with salt (Lev 2: 13). This command was made probably because salt as a preservative, symbolised God’s everlasting covenant with Israel (cf. Num 18: 19).
“Salt was often used among Oriental peoples for ratifying agreements, so that salt became the symbol of fidelity and constancy” (The New Bible Dictionary). In the Eastern nations, setting salt before a stranger was a symbol of friendship and hospitality.
Among the many valuable properties of salt is its use as a preservative. Until the invention of canning and refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food. It was also used in ancient times as an antiseptic to bring healing to wounds. Like salt, believers, by their witness and godly conduct, are used by the Lord to preserve the world from complete moral decay. As salt, we are to counteract the power of sin and its corrupting effects upon the world.
If not for the holy influence and prayers of God’s children, “the earth would be but a stinking dunghill of drunkards, unclean persons, thieves, murderers, unrighteous persons, that would be a stench in the nostrils of a pure and holy God” (Matthew Poole).
Salt is also used as a flavour enhancer. Without salt, our food would taste insipid. In his reply to his friend Eliphaz, Job compared his grievous afflictions to unsavoury food without salt: “Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6: 6).
The apostle Paul exhorted the Colossian Christians to season their speech “with salt” – that is, with wholesome and palatable words: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col 4: 6).
Brethren, the Lord has called us to be “the salt of the earth”. Like salt with its valuable properties, let us resolve to influence the world for good by our Christian witness and prayers. (… to be continued)