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Salty Believers

During our morning study, we looked at Mark 9:49-50 where we saw the need for fire and salt in our lives. While there are many mentions of fire in the New Testament, there are fewer mentions of salt. But those mentions include some very good applications to our Christian lives. Tonight, we will be looking at two of the six references to salt in the New Testament and what they mean for each of us.

  1. Salt represents a believer’s influence on the world (Matt. 5:13).

    What does it say?

    Jesus told his followers that they are the salt of the earth. But how can the salt be seasoned if it loses its flavor? Without flavor, it would be worthless and thrown out to be stepped on.

    What does it mean?

    “There were two purposes for salt in the first century—preserving food and enhancing flavor. Both of those purposes may apply here, or Jesus may have been speaking in a more general sense.”1 Both meanings can be seen.

    Christians can slow down the moral and spiritual decay of the world.

    “By using this salt metaphor, Jesus may have meant that His disciples are called to be ‘preservatives’ in the world, slowing down the advancement of moral and spiritual decay. … Believers are to preserve truth and goodness in a fallen world.”1

    Psalm 14:3 – “They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

    If everyone has turned away from the Lord (Psalm 14:3) and rejected what God has revealed (Rom. 1), Christians are the only ones that can preserve the culture from becoming totally rotten. Like Noah before the Flood, Lot in Sodom, Obadiah in Israel, and Daniel in Babylon, Christians can keep the world from becoming totally godless.

    Christians can enhance life by adding godliness to an ungodly world.

    “Salt was also used as a flavor enhancer. Jesus may have been instructing His disciples to ‘enhance’ the flavor of life in this world—enriching its goodness and making God’s work stand out from the normal way of doing things. … As believers behave in ways that reflect God’s nature, they accentuate the difference that Jesus makes in one’s life.”1

    Luke 6:35 – “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

    When a Christian lives a godly life in an ungodly world, he makes life better for those around him. Loving an enemy, doing good to the undeserving, and lending without demanding repayment with interest—these are examples of being like God is. Just as God is kind to those who are evil and do not thank Him, so we must live. And in this way, every Christian can enhance the world around them.

    How does it apply?

    We must try to hold back wickedness in our community.

    If we take the idea of salt being a preservative to its natural application, we have a job to do. We must speak God’s truth to the world and fight against evil where we see it. What are some areas of concern right now?

    Immorality, pornography, abortion, lawlessness, drunkenness, drug addiction, dishonesty, greed

    In all of these cases, we must speak up about sin and show people how these things destroy communities. The world will not like it, but we must try to give voice to God’s opinion where many others are not. If we do not speak up, we will no longer be salt to the world.

    We must live godly lives for all to see.

    If we take the idea of salt being an enhancement to life, we must seek to do that. What we say must also be seen in our lives. It is one thing to speak out against sin. It is altogether another thing to actually live it. Our presence in the world is designed to make a difference in our own community. What should they see?

    1 Tim. 6:11 – “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”

    When we live righteously and godly, people should see our faith in God, our love for Him and others, our patience with others, and our gentleness to those who don’t deserve it. Are you doing that? Or has your salt become useless?

  2. Salt represents a believer’s carefully prepared speech (Col. 4:6).

    What does it say?

    Paul tells us to always make sure our speech is accompanied by graciousness, seasoned with salt, so that we can know how to answer each person.

    What does it mean?

    It means that our speech needs to be gracious.

    Speaking with grace means that we should have an attitude of graciousness when speaking with other people. Graciousness affects “the content and tone of our words”2

    It means that our speech should be like salt.

    Once again, we see salt in the Bible. But this time it is applied to a Christian’s speech. “Some people think this verse says, ‘Let your speech be salt,’ and they sting you with their little sarcastic remarks!”3 If we continue with the two uses of salt above, this would lead to two thoughts. Our speech should deter evil.3 Our speech should also enhance a conversation in a way that points people to God’s perspective.

    It means that our speech should be appropriate.

    The last part of the verse talks about knowing how “to answer each one.” We already know that we should be gracious. We also know that we should be like salt. But each situation is different and requires us to apply those principles to each situation.

    How does it apply?

    Would someone describe you as gracious?

    This is an important question. It is easy to speak the truth with such violence that no grace is evident in our words. We need to be careful how we speak the truth. Remember that we are to be “speaking the truth in love” not just speaking the truth.

    Would someone say that your speech is like salt?

    Some of us are better at the gracious part than being salt. Being salt-like in our conversation means that we will need to say some things that won’t be accepted or enjoyed by ungodly people. But we need to speak anyway. We need to speak the truth so that people can know the truth and be set free.

    Would someone say that you try to speak appropriately to the situation?

    One last thing to think about is how to prepare your speech before it comes out of your mouth. Answering someone immediately often leads to problems. Have you heard the old saying? “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” This is true here as well. When we interact with people, we need to tailor our words to the situation: gracious, salt-like, and appropriate conversation.

Conclusion

We have been called to be like salt in a rotten world. Our lives and words can make life better for others by showing them the change God has made in our lives, the change He can make in their lives, and what the truth is regardless of the response. This will take some courage and prayer. We need God’s help and we also need the resolve to live in the way God has revealed here. Will you be salt in the world this week?

Footnotes

1 “What did Jesus mean when He described His followers as the salt of the earth?”
2 “Why are we told to ‘let your words be seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6)?”
3 McGee 363.

Bibliography

Geisler, Norman, “Colossians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 5, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

“What did Jesus mean when He described His followers as the salt of the earth?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=17920 on 4/7/2024.

“Why are we told to ‘let your words be seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6)?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=65646 on 4/7/2024.