Goldenview Baptist Church

Called To Be the Salt of the Earth Matthew 5:13-16
Written by Rev Zackary Johnson   
Monday, 15 June 2009 00:29

“A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck." He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" She said, "You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."

While Peppermint Patty was seeking to pass the buck, she was in a very real sense right. We should be a good influence on our friends. We certainly do have an influence on others, for good or for bad.”

This morning I want to talk about believer’s being the Salt of the Earth. This passage of scripture is a part of the greatest sermon ever preached, “The Sermon on the Mount” preached by the Lord Himself. The theme of that great sermon was how people of the kingdom of heaven are to live. Jesus was saying, “Those who are My disciples should affect the world in a positive way by the way in which they live.” We are as believers “Called To Be the Salt of the Earth”.


In Matthew 5:13-16, we read, "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.”

Jesus gives us no explicit explanation of the word pictures of salt and light that he uses in these verses, unlike the Parable of the Sower in chapter thirteen, where he tells us exactly what he wants us to understand. Here we are left to come to an understanding of these images on the basis of how these things are used in the world around us. We must then seek to understand “What Is It That We Are To Understand About Salt And How Are Christian’s Like Salt?”
First, Christians Like Salt Are Of Infinite Value (v. 13a).

Jesus said to his followers “You are the salt of the earth.” But we miss something in the modern English translation; the KJV translates this verse “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Now “Ye” is a good Southern word, it means “Ya’ll” (that is “you all” for you people that are not of Southern origin). You know how we say “See Ya’ll latter” or “Ya’ll come back now”.

Jesus is saying, “You all of you are the salt of the earth.”
Jesus refers to his handful of basically uneducated disciples and referred to them as the salt of the earth.

What great dignity Jesus bestows on his followers. What a great compliment! You might be saying to me “to be call salt, a compliment”. Yes, a compliment. Because salt was a necessity of life in ancient times and thus great value was attached to it. Salt was so important that it was sometimes used for money. The Roman soldiers of Jesus’ day were at times paid with it. In fact, our word “salary” comes from the Latin word salarium which referred to the payments to the soldiers with salt. We still use the phrase saying that someone either is, or is not, “worth their salt.”

Now we don’t think much about salt because we can get as much of it as we want in pure form. It is just that little bottle with holes in the top on the table. But when you are completely dependent on salt to preserve your food, and when it is so valuable that it is used in the place of money, you get a completely different perspective on salt.

And because we live in a part of the world where we have an abundance of food we don’t understand the monotony of the diet of those who lived in Jesus’ day and for most of those who live in third world countries even today. In a great portion of the world rice is the common food, three times a day. In part of Africa today the subsistence food is corn meal, at every meal. In fact the Swahili word corn meal is “posha” meaning daily ration – corn meal given to workers on a plantation. Without salt it would be difficult to continue to swallow the same monotonous food, time after time. In Job 6:6 the Bible says, “Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?” For this one reason alone salt is indispensable.

My brothers and sisters, “ye are the salt of the earth”.
Christians Like Salt Are Of Infinite Value.
Secondly, Christians Like Salt Act As A Preservative. (v. 13a)

Salt was important for survival, because it was the only way they had to preserve meat. Obviously, they were not as privileged as we are with refrigeration, so salt became very important in their ability to preserve their food. The salt was rubbed into the meat before it was stored. Salt was to arrest or at to hinder the process of decay, so too

Christians are given the task of arresting or hindering the process of decay in our world. Christianity has in fact had a profound positive effect on the world. The most dramatic impact of Christianity on the world is that it has attached new value to human life. Prior to Christianity infanticide, and abandonment of children was a common practice. Hospitals as we now know them began through influence of Christianity. The Red Cross was started by an evangelical Christian. Almost every one of the first 123 colleges and universities in the United States has Christian origins, founded by Christians for Christian purposes. The same could be said of orphanages, adoption agencies, humane treatment of the insane, the list goes on and on of dramatic impact of Christianity in our world.

Christian’s continue to have a positive benefit on our world. As a moral antiseptic, Christians keep the corruption of society at bay by opposing moral decay by their lives and by their words.

But there is a horrifying new trend in our world today. The average Christian in the average church today is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. The fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live, is missing. When our teens who claim to be saved, use drugs, alcohol, and engage in sexual activities at the same rate as the general teenage population – something is horribly wrong. When the marriages of Christians end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society – something is horribly wrong. When Christians cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians - something is horribly wrong.”

If we as Christian’s lose the qualities of Christlikeness that make us distinct and become like the society around us, we no longer have a positive impact. We become a hindrance instead of a preservative.
According to Scripture, one day prior to our Lord’s return the Church will be removed from this world, and when Christians are finally removed from the world scene, all Hell will literally breaks loose.

In 2 Thess. 2:7 we read, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
Christians Like Salt Act As A Preservative and …
Thirdly, Christians Like Salt Are to Promote Thirst.
In dry climate and athletic competition salt is used to promote thirst. If you lost at sea, and you began to drink the salt water, you would be thirstier, and probably thirst to death. Salt is used to promote thirst.

Christians are to make Christ attractive and desirable.
In Titus 2:9 the Apostle Paul tells Christian servants that they must act in such a way “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” “adorn” is the Greek word that we get the word cosmetics from and is used to describe the arrangements of jewels in a manner to set off their full beauty –

You see, you ladies arranged your jewelry this morning to set off your beauty. The idea here is that all Christians have the power through their exemplary behavior to make the Christian life and faith beautiful to those outside.

Whenever we as Christians are introduced into a setting, whether it is social or work related, the unbelievers should see evidence of the difference that Jesus Christ makes in our lives. They should be able to look at us and say, “I don’t know what they have but I want it.”

My Brothers and sisters, Christians Like Salt Should Promote Thirst and
Fourthly, Christians Like Salt Can Lose Their Usefulness. (v. 13b)
Jesus says that if the salt loses its flavor, (v. 13b) “… It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
Technically speaking, salt cannot lose its saltiness; sodium chloride is a stable compound. But in the part of the world where Jesus lived, salt was collected from around the Dead Sea where the crystals were often contaminated with other minerals. These crystalized formations were full of impurities, and since the actual salt was more soluble than the impurities, the rain could wash out the salt, which made what was left of little worth since it lost its saltiness. When this happened, the salt was thrown out, since it was no longer of any value either as a preservative or for flavoring.

When the salt was washed out it still looked like salt, but it lost its taste. The essential difference can be washed out of a Christian’s life by the constant flow of the world’s values through our lives.

When Mahatma Gandhi was the spiritual leader of India, he was asked by some missionaries, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” His reply was, “Christians.”

“The peculiar property of salt is that even though it may have lost its sting,… it still retains one very devastating potency. This rare and remarkable material can still …. destroy plant life on the land….it can dissolve a snail if it makes contact with it.

The same principle applies in the case of the Christian. Either our lives or counting for good and for God or they are making an impact for evil and the devil…. The way we live, the things we say, the attitudes we entertain, the life style we adopt… are continuously producing either positive or negative results on society…. Our lives, whether we are aware or not either count for God or against Him. There is simply no middle ground.”

My Brothers and sisters, Christians Like Salt Can Lose Their Usefulness and….
Lastly, Christians Like Salt Must Have Contact To Have An Influence! (Matt. 5:14-16)
As we have already noted, the Christian is to be a preserving force in the world wherever God has placed them. But the salt never did any good when it was sitting on a shelf some place and the meat was some-where else. To be effective, the salt had to be rubbed into the meat.

Nudge the person next to you and tell them “you need to rub off on me”.

If I’m not acting like I should “you need to rub off on me”.

You see, just like salt, the Christian’s are to allow God to use them wherever he has placed them.

Whenever the church becomes a salt warehouse, it has missed out on the lesson that salt must make contact to have an affect.

Look at what he says in verses 14-16

(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.”

I want you to notice what Jesus says and does not say.

He does not say, “You all can be the salt of the earth.”

Nor does he say, “You all should be the salt of the earth.”

Jesus says “You are the salt of the earth” and in the Greek it is literally “You and you alone are the salt of the earth.”

To be salt, we do not have to be spectacular
To be salt, we do not have to be sensational
To be salt, we do not have to be successful
(by the world’s standard’s)
To be salt, we just have to let our light shine in our little corner of the world.

Why don’t we just sprinkle some salt on the life of someone else?