Your lives are like salt among the people. But if you, like salt, become bland, how can your saltiness be restored? Flavorless salt is good for nothing and will be thrown out and trampled by others.”Matthew 5:13 TPT
So, what do we know about salt? If our life is like salt, then it would be worth our time to take a look at Na (sodium) + Cl (chloride) = salt. Let’s dive in.
There are several approaches we can take in looking at salt. The first would be in the context and setting of this passage in Matthew.
Salt shards were gathered from the Dead Sea during Jesus’ time and brought back to the home for multiple uses. Dead Sea salt of that time was often “contaminated with other minerals, causing a weakness in flavor or bland, unpleasant taste.” (1) But one of it’s primary uses in the home was for flavoring the water pot for stew. The salt shard would be dipped into the pot of water to flavor the water. After too many dips, the salt shard would have lost it’s flavor. It would then be taken ouside and used as pavers to walk on.
It was also possible that a flavorful salt shard would get rained on. That would dissolve the salt, leaving only the contaminants which were of little use.
Another approach when looking at salt is the scientific perspective.
Salt is an inorganic compound, not from living matter. As mentioned earlier, it is the combination of Na – sodium + Cl – chloride. Sodium chloride = table salt. NaCl is a very stable chemical substance. In fact, the only way for salt to lose it’s salinity is through a chemical reaction with another substance. (My teaching 8th grade, Physical Science is coming in handy now.) Salt can however be diluted in water and will then loose it’s pungent saltiness. It does not form a new compound when combind with water, it forms a mixture. But in it’s crystal form, it is non-reactive.
Salt may become bland by the presence of impurities, interation with other components or exposure to humid environments. All of these, cause harm to the flavor of salt. Salt will become “bad” only when it gets deteriorated due to some external factors. “There is no such thing as horrible natural salt in the world of salt.” (2)
Another part of the science of salt is salt’s many uses.
We are told that there are 14,000 known uses for salt. It is much more than a flavor enhancer or preserver. Salt carries iodine which aids the thyroid function, and fluorine which helps prevent tooth decay. In fact, adults need 4-5 grams of common salt a day. (Which with balanced nurtition, is found in our meals.)
Our body actually needs salt to:
- absorb & transport nutrients
- maintain blood pressure
- maintain the right balance of fluid
- transmit nerve signals
- contract and relax muscles (3)
Your body needs salt, but too little or too much can be harmful.
Remember too, that on your tongue are 5 primary taste modalities. Can you remember them? Sweet, sour, bitter, savoriness (now called umami), and saltiness. Matter of fact, the brain detects the taste from salty foods as “pleasant“, and from the others as “unpleasant”. No kidding, a chemical event on your tongue that determines what is pleasant?! Crazy.
The internet is filled with lists of uses for salt. I’ve read most of them and written down many. But to summarize here, human comsumption of salt represents only 6% of the 250 million metric tonnes of salt that is used world wide in a year. The majority 94% is used for: softening water, de-icing roads, and in agriculture; with the largest amount used in manufacture of PVC, plastics, & paper pulp. (4) In 2020 the salt industry was valued at 28 billion US dollars.
Please hang with me here, you know we’re gonna drive this all home. But one last thing worth mentioning about salt.
There are 3 methods of sourcing salt – getting it out of the earth. They are:
- evaporation of sea water
- mining rock salt formations in the earth
- creating salt brines (6)
Each of these is interesting in itself, but for sake of time, I want to mention only one – mining rock salt formations.
To mine rock salt, specialized equipment is used underground, that cuts the salt beds into large blocks. The method that is commonly used for this is called the “room and pillar” method. The equipment extracts large “rooms”of salt (a block at at time) from the salt beds with unscathed “pillars” left behind. The Sifto Salt Mine in Ontario, Canada is the largest salt mine in the world and it is 2,000 feet below earth’s surface.
I will close now with looking at salt from the spiritual point of view, applying what we have learned about salt to our lives and seeking your answer to our opening question.
It is no accident that after Jesus taught his disciples “The Beattitudes” in Matthew chapter 5, (which we talked about in 2 previous blogs), that He then tells them,
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost it’s taste, how shall it’s saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”Matthew 5:13 ESV
He was telling them, YOU are the salt shards, pulled from the earth, and now dipped into every homes’ nourishment and sustainence. Stay salty, flavorful, not dilluted, or contaminated and don’t allow yourselves to become those road pavers that are walked all over by men. Too much dipping will cause you to be bland. Be wise. Be salty. Keep your flavor.
He is telling us, as salt shards, our flavor will deteriorate only when we succomb to external factors. (Stress, worry, fear, unbelief, depression, etc.) We are stable when our relationship with Him is crystalized and found to be without mixture or dillution. We are put in this world as salt, a nonreactive, stable and needed compound intended to affect everything that we are dipped into.
Indeed, your saltiness in this world has at least 14,000 uses. Your impact as salt in your home is more than just seasoning, it is vital to a healthy family life. Your saltiness at work, school, or in your neighborhood has untold influence in more ways than you may ever see. Just a dash of your saltiness can treat irritations, melt hard hearts, and put fires out. Your saltiness will bring healing and even deoderize smelly situations. Your body will prosper and be in good health, as you are salty. As you, yourself are seasoned with the salt of His presence.
We humans, in abundant supply on this planet carry the capacity to majorly affect our world and that is indeed God’s intention for us as the salt of the earth, if, we have not lost our saltiness. And let’s not forget that saltiness is detected as pleasant by our brain, so let’s share our salty pleasantness with our neighbors.
One last thought – Do you recall Lot’s wife? The one who looked back and “turned to a pillar of salt”? Genesis 19:26 Do you recall the common method for mining rock salt? “Room and pillar“, right? Could it be that Lot’s wife had lost her saltiness and become a pillar because all of her salt had been mined out of her by living in such close contact with and deteriorated by the perverted people of Sodom? There was no room in her that contained salt. Her salt was empty and depleted. She had been dipped and mined and had nothing left but a stationary, singular pillar. Just wondering…
Wrapping this up, Mark tells us “to have salt in yourselves” Mark 9:50. Paul in Colossians 4:6 tells us, ” that your speech be seasoned with salt…”. Jesus said, “You are the salt…”.
As believers, we should be able to retain and live the very “beattitudes” or salt of the kingdom, as listed below, free from external forces, mixture, deterioration, dissolving away, or being mined out of us. These salty crystals are what keeps us stable and nonreactive in this world.
- poor in spirit – unable to live spiritually without God
- mourn – feeling genuine sadness for sin
- meek – accepting God’s dealings with us, humble
- hunger & thirst for righteousness – craving what is right before God
- merciful – compassionate
- pure in heart – free from corrupt desires
- peacemakers – bringers of peace
- the persecuted – harassed, troubled, maltreated
So, do you see it now, the link between those salty beattitudes of kingdom living and us being the salt of the earth? Those values are what fires our saltiness. No wonder Mark 9:49 says, “everyone will be salted with fire.”
So here we are, again asking you, are you salty?
- “Salt in the Bible” – Wikipedia