“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
3R's of Being the Salt of the Earth
by Randall D. Kittle
stacks_image_B93C367A-0951-46AD-9532-EF8E73BD3039

There are a number of places in the Scriptures where the Lord declares what true believers are to be. One of these is Matthew 5:13 where He says, “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.”

The first thing we can learn from this verse is that the world needs salting. The world in which we live is corrupt, unsavory, and beginning to decay! It needs to be disinfected and preserved.

In light of that great need, Jesus called this little band of followers, that pinch of salt gathered there, to season and save the whole world. This must have sounded ridiculous to them. While there was quite a large crowd gathered to hear the message, if you compared its size to even the number of people in Israel, it was a very small number. Though in the natural it might have seemed ridiculous at the time for Jesus to say they would be salt to the whole earth, two thousand years later we have a different perspective. Down through the ages, that little pinch of salt has seasoned almost all of the earth, and before this age comes to a close, the entire earth will be seasoned with the message of Jesus Christ.

While we all know that Jesus
said we are the salt of the earth, do we understand what He meant by being the salt of the earth? Obviously, the Lord was not calling us to be the chemical compound sodium chloride. Jesus was telling us that even as salt affects, influences, enhances, and changes those things it comes in contact with … so should the lives of all true believers.

Just as Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic are the 3 R’s of learning, the basics that are necessary for a solid education, we will be looking at the three R’s needed to have a fundamental understanding of being the salt of the earth. These three R’s are: the Reason, the Reaction, and the Results.

The 1st R — the Reason
The first “R” of understanding our calling to be the salt of the earth is the Reason — why did Jesus call us to be the salt of the earth? Why did Jesus say we are the salt of the earth and not the vinegar of the earth or the olive oil of the earth? Let’s look at five different reasons, five characteristics of salt, that show us how our lives should affect this world both in words and in deeds. When we are talking about salt, I believe these traits especially show us how we should talk, how our words should affect this world. It tells us in Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt …” When you and I are talking, when we are communicating with people, our conversations should always be filled with grace and filled with salt. The words that we speak should be adding the salt of heaven to this world!

Salt Seasons
The first reason we are called to be salt is that salt seasons … it makes what is plain or poor better. It improves, makes better, and adds value. Adding just a pinch of salt has saved many a recipe. In defining salt, I agree with the little boy who said: “Salt is what spoils mashed potatoes … when it is left out.” The Bible seems to agree, for it says in Job 6:6 “Can bland food be eaten without salt?”

Salt enhances and enriches, and this is what the words we speak should be doing. Our words should improve things and make them better. It tells us in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good ...” How do we bring forth these good treasures? We bring them forth by speaking, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). As believers, we must bring forth good from the life, love, and light the Lord has placed within our hearts and season this World! We should be speaking words of life, words of encouragement, and words of hope. Our conversation should always be seasoned with the testimonies of Jesus’ faithfulness, declarations of the joy and hope we possess, and offers to pray for others.

While it is important for us to have good, godly values in our hearts, that is not enough. These godly virtues need to come forth to season our society. We must first practice the values and virtues set forth in the Word of God — choosing life, being kind, being merciful, having hope, showing love, and then season our society with them through every arena possible such as: our conversation, how we train up our children, what we say as we advise, instruct or mentor others, the choices we make in politics, our lifestyle choices, and our economic choices.

I can’t tell you for whom you should vote, but I can tell you that you should vote and that, as a Christian, your votes should support candidates whose values line up with the Word of God. We must be willing not only to vote for them, but also to encourage others to do the same by explaining the values we are supporting. I don’t care how your family, union, or social club wants you to vote. We need to be politically motivated by what lines up with God’s Word if we are going to season society.

As God’s salt for this world, we must season and flavor everything with which we come in contact. Salt does not season some things and not others. Everything salt comes in contact with is rendered more salty. Our lifestyle choices and our economic choices are seasoning society whether we realize it or not. When I talk with people throughout the week, one of the things that amazes them the most is the fact that we do not have cable television at my house. The most common response when people hear this is “How do you live like that?” I generally reply, “Very well, thank you!” This has created many opportunities for me to share about making godly choices and not just going with the flow of our culture. We need to make sure that the things we are doing and the choices we are making line up with whom we are called to be in Christ, and then let them season our society. Let me warn you, however, that when others find out about those choices they may think you are a little different … maybe even strange. That’s okay; after all, the Bible says we are aliens in this world.

Are you known in your neighborhood, at work, at school, or in your family as one who speaks words of life and lifts up godly virtue whenever our sin-sick media, our corrupt culture, or the political agenda of our day comes against it? You should be.

Salt Disinfects & Cleanses
The second reason we are to be God’s salt on this earth is that salt disinfects and cleanses … it rids and removes what is bad. Salt has been used for centuries for disinfecting wounds and as a cleaning agent.

There is an interesting example of this in the second chapter of 2 Kings. The men of the city of Jericho asked the prophet Elisha for help. They said,
“Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren” (2 Kings 2:19). To their request the prophet replied, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it” (2 Kings 2:20). While that may sound strange, it is what the Spirit of God had revealed to the prophet was necessary to heal the land. Then, Elisha cast the salt into the source of the water, and the water and land were miraculously healed — the water was good and the ground became fruitful.

In the days in which we live, our land is truly pleasant but its soul has become bad and barren. God desires to heal the waters of our land so that the moral desert and spiritual barrenness can be broken
. He wants to cast the salt of our lives into this polluted world to disinfect it and cause it to no longer be barren but instead be fruitful for the kingdom of God. The Lord expects us, as His salt, to heal the waters of this land and purify our degenerating, pluralistic, self-focused society.

This involves not putting up with “unsavory” talk, crude jokes, sarcastic ridicule, profane language, and the like. There are some things we should not be part of, listen to, nor put up with. When we enter a room of people who are saying unsavory things, they ought to stop. Gossip should end. Crude jokes should not be told in our presence, and if they are, we need to let others know that they are not appropriate. Profane language should not be used by us, nor left unchecked around us. Sarcastic ridicule should not be part of our conversation nor those to whom we listen. If others fail to halt their objectionable ways of speaking, we need to confront them and let them know there are some things we are not going to be part of or have said in our presence. People may call you a “goody two shoes,” but that is better than being tasteless salt that is worthless.

Our conversations should also let others know that some things are sins according to the Word of God. Our laws may have legalized abortion, but killing babies is still an abomination to God. Our government may want to sanction same sex marriages, but that doesn’t mean God condones them. Our legislatures may try to legitimize gambling, but its devastating results reveal its moral wrongness.

I’m not talking about being obnoxious, judgmental or “hyper-religious.” The last thing the Lord needs is another believer with a sarcastic tee shirt or abrasive bumper sticker that makes fun of the world and rubs them the wrong way. I am calling for friends of God who declare the biblical values of God and stand against all that is wrong even when it is unpopular. Jesus said we are the salt of the world. He didn’t promise we would be popular!

Salt Lifts Up
Another reason we are to be the salt of the earth is that salt lifts up … it causes what would sink to the depths to rise up. If you were to go to the Dead Sea by Israel and jump in, you wouldn’t sink down very far. Everyone floats in the Dead Sea because it is eight times saltier than the ocean, which gives it a lot of buoyancy. No matter how much you weigh, the saltiness in the water will lift you up to the surface and allow you to float.

Ephesians 4:29 instructs us,
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” The Lord wants those we talk to not to be tickled or enamored, but to be built up and benefitted. As the salt of the earth, the words we speak should lift others up. They should bring hope to the hopeless, light to those in darkness, healing to the brokenhearted, and encouragement to the downcast. God has given us peace and joy. He has poured His unquenchable, unceasing love into our hearts. The peace, love, and joy the Lord has given us should flow forth lifting up those around us … bringing them closer to Him.

We are called to be uplifting, to speak of positive things. Do the words you choose to speak bring hope and encouragement? Are you the “Pollyanna” of the conversation, always positive and uplifting? The conversations of too many believers sound more like Eeyore than Pollyanna. They are so filled with gloom and doom it is a wonder any church visitor would ever be brave enough to return.

Salt Softens & Melts
We are also called to be the salt of the earth because salt softens and melts … it softens what has been hardened and melts what is frozen. Salt in a water softener makes the water soft, removing the hard, abrasive minerals and helping eliminate soap scum and lime deposits. Salt is also used to melt the snow and ice on roads and sidewalks, working in temperatures well below freezing.

As I observe people in our society, I have come to realize that many of them have become hardened and could use a little softening. Life has been difficult and when they have turned to the Church they have too often been beaten up with the Bible or told, “You’re a sinner and you’re going to hell.” Instead of helping them, we have further hardened their hearts to the good news of the gospel.

What words could we speak to soften the frozen hearts of those in our cold and callous culture? What does the Bible say causes things to melt? While it tells us a number of things, in Psalm 147:18 it says, “
God sends His word and melts them …” The verses just before this speak of snow, frost, and hail. This verse declares that God melts them all by His Word! We need to do more than just speak positive words with godly values. We need to be speaking God’s Word — the Bible. The Word of God can melt the icy-cold heart of its hearers like nothing else. The truth of the Bible can soften even the most bitter, hardened heart. The Word of God can bind the bruised, give sight to the blind, supply strength to the weak, revive the faint, and rescue the perishing.

I have come to realize that all day long I declare the Word of God while I am talking with people. I can’t even imagine how many Bible verses I quote in an average week. Now, I don’t normally stop and give chapter and verse, but often the words I am speaking are the Word of God, and the Word of God is powerful. It will not be defeated nor return void.

We need to remember to share God’s Word like it tells us in Proverbs 15:1: “
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Some people get agitated when you quote the Bible because they have had it used as a harsh word against them instead of a soft answer to instruct them. We need to speak the Word of God as a soft answer for this world because it is the answer the world so desperately needs. Remember, it tells us in Ephesians 4:15 that we are supposed to “speak the truth in love.” If we bring the Bible forth in a gentle manner, speaking it in love, it will have a powerful and fruitful effect.

Salt Heals & Preserves
The last reason we are to be the salt of the earth is that salt heals and preserves … it heals sickness and preserves the dead from rotting. For years, people have used a salt gargle for sore throats, and those suffering from aches and pains have experienced relief using salt baths. Most of us know that salt has been used from ancient days to preserve meat and keep it from spoiling.

The greatest healing anyone could experience is the healing of their soul, and the greatest preservation we could ever encounter is eternal preservation … becoming born again. Our saltiness should help lead the lost to the permanent preservation of salvation. How? We looked earlier at the beginning of Colossians 4:6, but the whole verse says:
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” We can see what question we need to know how to answer in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” This verse says that people should be asking us why our lives are different, why we have hope even when all seems hopeless. When our lives and words display the saltiness of Christ, salvation will not be something we have to sell to others. They will be asking us about it! “What’ve you got that I don’t have?” “Why do you have such hope?” “Why aren’t you downcast?” The saltiness displayed and declared from our lives will cause them to want us to give an answer. Certainly, this reason alone is reason enough for us to want to be worth our salt.

The 2nd R — the Reaction
The second R of understanding our calling to be the salt of the earth is the Reaction — how will the world respond to our saltiness? We need to remember that salt is an irritant. It stings, burns, and corrodes. If you have ever gone into the ocean with a small cut on your foot, you quickly learned that salt in a cut stings. If salt water has ever splashed into your eyes, you can testify that salt burns. And, the same salt that helps clear our winter roads also corrodes our cars — eating through hardened steel!

It is the same with the salt of God’s truth. When it is rubbed into this diseased and wounded world, some people are going to smart. As God’s salt, we may not be welcomed by a generation full of wounds, bruises, and sores.

Since it is going to sting anyway, some of the Church has become overly harsh, obnoxious, confrontative, and judgmental. They run roughshod over the lost and then respond, “Well, that’s just being the salt of the world.” They seem to have forgotten that the message the Lord has given us to share is
Good News. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. “Christ … gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18–20).

In reaction to some of the Church being salty in such an abrasive manner, there are those who have devised a new solution — a new “low-salt” church is emerging in America. It is so seeker-friendly that it is becoming an enemy of God. Since it is low-salt, you don’t have to worry. It won’t raise your pressure. It won’t raise the dead either! There is a new pseudo-Christianity that is being developed in these days, and it follows a new prophet … Mary Poppins. They are not just low salt; they sugarcoat the whole message.
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the message go down.” This new pseudo-church has a message that is without offense, but it is also without effect! While they might have a form of godliness, they have denied its power — the power to remake lives, renew minds, and refine hearts!

The world is going to react to what we say and do. It is not necessarily going to like everything about us being the salt of the earth. We don’t want to rub it in their wounds by being obnoxious and rude, but we also must not sugarcoat our message and make it of no effect.

The 3rd R — the Results
The third “R” of being the salt of the earth is the Results — what will our saltiness accomplish in this world? Wouldn’t it be great if we could determine how salty our lives were? What if we had a “saltometer” that could measure whether our saltiness was affecting this world? While we cannot do that, I believe there is a way to measure our saltiness by examining one more characteristic of salt. If you were to eat a bag of potato chips or salted popcorn what would happen? You would become thirsty. Salt creates thirst. When the followers of Jesus Christ are salty (like we are supposed to be), and then come in contact with others, it makes those around us thirsty for the living water of Jesus Christ.

Now there is an impact worth aiming for. I, for one, am not interested in trying to force-feed living water to those around me. If I can succeed in being salty, however, I will make others thirsty for what Christ has to offer. Our lives should be like an open bag of potato chips set before a hungry world. If we will simply be salty (like we have been looking at) and be open and available, many will take a taste. And really … how many people can eat only one potato chip? The watching world, hungry in life for so much more than meets the eye, will continue to partake of our lives until our saltiness creates a thirst for Jesus Christ. The reason Jesus wants us to be the salt of the earth is because He is the Living Water. Our lives should develop in others a thirst to know God. We ought to live such lives that others would want the peace and joy they see in us. Does anybody want to be a Christian like you?

While the best argument against Christianity is faulty Christians, the best argument for Christ is salty Christians!
Growing up, I met hundreds of hypocritical Christians who feigned belief but had little to do with Jesus Christ in their hearts. They regularly went to church and regularly left without living any differently than when they arrived. Having met them helped me decide that I didn’t believe in God. But something happened when I began to go to the Salvation Army’s evening service with my girlfriend (who is now my wife). I met people who were different … really different. They wore old-fashioned uniforms and played band music that seemed to be from the late 1800’s. I was thinking, “What is this all about?” Yet, I couldn’t shake the fact that they really believed in God and truly believed the Bible — they were so salty! Over time, they kept rubbing off on me little by little, making me more and more thirsty for the things of God. Finally, one day I literally ran to the altar to become a Christian. I couldn’t wait any longer to drink of the living water of Jesus Christ and satisfy my thirst for Him.

Pray with me that we would take seriously the commissioning the Lord has given us to spread the salt of the kingdom of God.
We thank you, Lord, that you have called us to be Your salt on this earth. Help us to spend our lives seasoning, disinfecting, lifting up, melting, and preserving this world. Thank you that You have imparted to us the ministry of reconciliation to declare the good news of Your salvation. Lord, we have tasted and seen that You are good. As You used many to salt our lives and whet our appetites for more of You, help us to go forth, season this world, and make it thirsty for You. Amen.

All contents of this website are protected under copyright. Living Water Publications © ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­2017 All rights reserved.
www.livingwaterpublications.org