I have heard the verse many times, “You are the salt of the earth…” and though I wanted to understand what this meant fully, my mind lingered on the question, “What does this really mean?”
Living Scripture is quite interesting because the Holy Spirit will give different revelations to different people. Some revelations are simple to grasp, and others are quite profound, needing time to ponder their deeper meaning. Some revelations may not be for you, and some may speak right to your heart…maybe some feel like salt in a wound. The only disclaimer I’ll give, because I will be sharing the Bible which is truth, is that I am a human and my perspective or understanding of something may be different than yours, especially as God is healing my heart… I am simply sharing because I have learned more and more that God gave me important things to say and my voice is vital. The Lord put it on my heart to share what I am learning in hopes of helping someone else along their own healing journey.
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
Ok. Umm… ouch…that does feel like salt in a wound.
What is Jesus talking about? Who is He talking to?
This verse is from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the masses that have come to hear Him speak and He is teaching them. He is telling them, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”
The verse right before the well known salt verse is “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account…"
Then He says,
“You are the salt of the earth.”
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
As I have been taking steps forward in my walk with Christ, I am realizing how fear likes to sneakily creep in. I will feel full of faith, ready to walk on water and then all of the sudden...the fear of being too honest, the fear of being too vulnerable, the fear of being too different or too deep, the fear of offending people, the fear of the government, or the fear of what the doctor will say…. These are deep rooted fears that Jesus wants to root out for good.
There is always a choice between moving forward or going back to what’s comfortable- and not necessarily comfortable, but what is more familiar. I have come to this crossroad each time the Lord wants me to come deeper into His presence.
Can I just be sweet and not salty?
For me there has been the temptation to hide—though it doesn’t occur to me that I’m hiding in the moment… I am thankful for the "salty" believers God has surrounded me with to bring it to my attention. The hiding I am speaking of looks like hiding in the busyness of my life or my selfish preoccupation with my own pain and my family's need for healing. The biggest temptation is that most excuses that I could make would generally be understood. I could simply say, my son has a degenerative neuromuscular disease and I am his main caregiver, or I am a single mom of 3 kids and I am a new business owner. Or on top of that, I am going to school to be a Holistic Chef and I cook every night of the week plus extra, or I have been emotionally preoccupied because I had to set some firm boundaries with my entire family because they are hanging out with my narcissistic ex-husband for the holidays….Was that too honest? Or too vulnerable?
All of these statements are true. However, if I am called to do something for the Lord, all these excuses mean nothing. I am sure Lot’s wife had a lot of excuses too as to why she wanted to go back to Sodom- and because of her decision to turn back, she turned into a pillar of salt…
I looked up the Hebrew word for salt used in this verse, Genesis 19:26. The Hebrew word for salt used in this context is “mâlach” and it means “to rub to pieces to pulverize, to disappear as dust.” Frankly, I don’t want to turn into dust yet and thankfully because Jesus came and died for me, He doesn’t want me to either.
I want to be the right type of salt. Not the pillar of salt to be trampled on, but the salt that brings a pure, righteous, beautiful saltiness, with the correct balance of flavor.
Did you know the cheap salt with the label, "iodized" on it is actually bad for you? Did you know it is also the one most used in households and in processed foods? Like most food items, the manufacturers put a label, front and center, to remind you that they added something good for you in it. The hope is that this "healthy label" is enticing enough to persuade you to buy it because of it's supposed nutritious value. What's sad about this practice is that most of the time the label is not honest to what's truly on the inside. There are other salts that are better, but they are usually more expensive, and sometimes hard to find. Most people, because they don't know any better, pay the cheaper price, not knowing the long term damage this poorly made ingredient will cause.
My grandma had these antique mugs that I loved when I was younger. They were white with a blue emblem with the Morton salt girl on the front. Underneath the little girl with the umbrella was written, “When it rains, it pours.” Much of my life I had this same outlook. This phrase, meant to be a cute and a light-hearted joke was twisted with the mindset that negative things in life happen all at once. I experienced many difficulties in my life early on and adopted this lie. I liked these mugs so much, that when I moved away I asked my grandma if I could have them. The deeper meaning of this action is profound, maybe too deep for some. So many of the mindsets we have are what we are born into, but they are not necessarily Biblical, even if they have a fake, healthy, or cute Christian label on it.
Since the Holy Spirit has placed food at the center of our conversations lately, I started thinking about salt in a more spiritual context. Knowing how salt plays a role in food and what it actually does scientifically helped me understand a little more of what Jesus meant when He said, “You are the salt of the earth.”
Here are some fun facts about salt that I learned reading for class in the book, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Mastering the Art of Good Cooking,” by Samin Nosrat. Her intro to salt starts off, “Salt is a mineral: sodium chloride. It’s one of several dozen essential nutrients without which we cannot survive. The human body can’t store much salt, so we need to consume it regularly in order to be able to carry out basic biological processes, such as maintaining proper blood pressure and water distribution in the body, delivering nutrients to and from cells, nerve transmission, and muscle movement. In fact, we’re hardwired to crave salt to ensure we get enough of it”(p16). She continues on and writes, “Salt’s relationship to flavor is multidimensional: it has its own particular taste, and it enhances the flavor of other ingredients. Used properly, salt minimizes bitterness and balances out sweetness, and enhances aromas, heightening our experience of eating.” (p17).
Salt has the ability to bring out the true depth of flavor in other ingredients. I had the opportunity to taste what salt does to individual ingredients in an exercise I had to do for class. We took plain ingredients including organic potatoes, radishes, oranges, and apples and tasted them with salt and without. We observed the difference in flavor when they were cooked with salt and when salted after. When an ingredient was salted, different flavors that were not apparent before came to forefront…and it made the ingredient taste better in most cases. There were some instances where the ingredient was too salty, which made it inedible. Another important point when salt is involved is balance. There is a fine line of when an ingredient is salted perfectly to enhance all the flavors present and a point where it has ruined the dish and is no longer edible because it is too salty.
What about the unhealthier salt? Why is that salt is frowned upon by some medical professionals? Why are some people on a no-salt or low sodium diet? Well…in some cases it is because at some point these people ate the wrong type of salt and too much of it, mainly in highly processed foods. If you eat the wrong kind of salt, the kind that has been stripped of all its nutrients, it can be harmful to your body.
And no matter what type of salt it is…if the salt is not salty, it serves no purpose.
Some ingredients benefit from salting before cooking, some need salting throughout, and some need a finishing salt. The use of salt, the amount, and the frequency all depend on the specific dish and what you are pairing that dish with. Skilled chefs know when a handful of salt is needed in a boiling pot of water or when a dish needs just a few flakes because anymore would disrupt the balance of all the flavors.
This is how salt brings unity in a dish. It pulls the unique flavor and even highlights flavors in each ingredient to bring them together as one delicious meal.
I started thinking what that meant for each of us as humans- as God created us to be the salt of the earth. Are we bringing out the great, natural, authentic “flavor” or characteristics of the other people around us? Are we being too much for some? Maybe too little for others?
Are we the overly refined type of salt? Are we feeding people words that make them feel great in the now, but will harm them later on? Have we lost our saltiness?
What makes the refined salt above less nutritious? It was overly tampered with by man. Adulterated salt. It is so refined by man-made machinery and processing it loses its natural flavor and nutritious quality, making it too salty and harmful to our health; it’s been rubbed to pieces and pulverized.
Lately at the grocery store I have been buying the more expensive Kosher salt, Maldon Salt, Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan rock salt-- all the natural, unrefined kinds of salt. The “salt” that I’d grown up eating, knowing, and being was fake, overly processed, and almost unnatural. I was not bringing out peoples’ authenticity because I wasn’t authentic myself, I was trying to be like everybody else.
I had to let the Holy Spirit “un-process” me. In this little food lesson, I realized that there is only One person who can restore saltiness. His name is Jesus. He is the only one who can restore your saltiness if you have lost it. I know because He is making me more naturally salty every day.
Real authentic sea salt takes longer to process naturally. It is dried out in the sun. It basks in the light until its ready to be used to bring out flavor. Let Him take you through His process for you.
Like I said before, I want to be an authentic, natural, priceless salt. I want to bring out the beautiful, the good, the unique flavor out of those around me. I’m willing to sacrifice the old poisonous, chemically-processed, GMO, pesticide-ridden ingredients I ate in the past to find purity. I’m surrendering those deep-rooted fears and stepping forward into a new deeper level of faith. I encourage you to take that deeper step as well.
Will you allow God to take you on a new journey? Will you allow Him to teach you about what you were previously eating? Will you allow God to feed you His feast, His body, His blood? Or will you get offended like the early disciples did and leave?
Have you lost your saltiness? Will you let Him restore you? Will you still shine for Him when people revile you?
“Come to the table, Come to the table,” He says, “I will feed you what no man has tasted.”
Jesus has reserved a seat for you at the best table where He is the chef, He is the server, where He is the bread, where He is the meat, where He is the wine—and you are His salt He created to make everything taste better.
“YOU are the SALT of the earth.” YOU are unique and you are essential to the body of Christ.