“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13)
When Christ spoke these words to large crowds, it is probably worthwhile understanding the historical, geographical and cultural context. It is 1st century Judea. Near the Dead Sea and salt is a valuable commodity. Not simply something to add taste to the family meal.
Salt in that culture and in that time was a preservative. It kept food from rotting. Traveling to the nearest supermarket and picking up a frozen T-bone steak isn’t the reality they were living. Neither was ice. Therefore salt was a necessity of life.
With the proximity to the Dead Sea, for Judea, salt was additionally a major export. It had great value.
France (2007) proposes calling Christians ‘salt of the earth’ means bringing the wholesome flavour of wisdom. If the Lord Jesus is meaning that Christians (in whatever environment they reside in) should bring the wisdom of Christ’s teaching then the metaphor has startling significance. The benefical effects of turning that which can rot into that which can sustain goodness is brought into focus.
Salt adds flavour yes, but flavour is a metaphor, a meaning pointing to wisdom bears the subsquent result of a Godly common sense rubbed into a dark place. Take away all the saltiness of the salt and there is only foolishness remaining and the ‘meat’ begins to rot.
Wherever one finds true followers of Jesus Christ we should find compassion, caring, kindness, wisdom and a striving for righteousness – that which is right – in direct contrast to that which is evil or wrong.
Be salty, down to earth, yet heavenly minded and thus bringing wisdom and love to the environment you are in. Preserving it from turning evil.