Salt of the Earth

By J. L. Leifeste

“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” (Matt. 5:13).

Common salt is a chemical compound of the elements sodium and chloride. It is found in seawater, in underground deposits, and sometimes on the earth’s surface like dried residue from salt seas or salt lakes. We often find it as the mineral halite. Its color varies by its content and purity. It may be colorless, white, gray, or brown. Naturally dried, it generally occurs in crystals shaped like cubes. Salt is essential to animal and human life. Each adult human body usually contains about 250 grams of it. Inside the human body, salt helps us to absorb nutrients and dispose of waste in the bloodstream. It regulates water exchange between cells throughout the body. Also, sodium regulates nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Without sodium, the human heart would not beat.

Throughout history, salt has been highly valued for many things. It has been, and is, employed as an additive for food flavoring. It often improves the food’s taste, and it helps replenish the salt content which can be destroyed by cooking the food. Salt has also been known for its preservative quality. Many foods can be preserved by rubbing salt into it, or by packing it in salt or in spiced, salted liquid. Salt is also recognized for possessing an antiseptic ability. And frequently, ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese used salt as barter, like money. People of today’s world still use salt in these ways.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus Christ was teaching His disciples about part of their situation in this world. As general traits of discipleship to Him, this teaching also applies to Christians today. The salt with which Christ’s listeners were acquainted contained many impurities because it was gathered from salt marshes, dried salt lakes, or rock salt. This salt lost its flavor and usefulness when exposed to the ground, rain, or sun. Its impurities caused it to turn to dust that was so worthless that it could not be used even by adding it to a field. It could only be used for scattering on roads or walkways where grass would not grow. Therefore, it was “trampled underfoot by men.”

The salt of the Christian is godliness. It is high morality and good ethical standards. The true Christian life exhibits godliness to the world by following Christ’s example and teachings (Jn. 3:21; 10:30; 17:20-21; 13:13-17; Matt. 20:25-28; Col. 3:13; 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:11-12, 21; 3:15-16). The true Christian also teaches the gospel of Christ, which saves — or preserves — souls for eternity. Godly Christians put spiritual flavor into the world. They help improve the world. They help preserve and promote the good things in this world. They help apply an antiseptic quality that can heal certain problems in this world. The worth of a godly Christian life is beyond measure.

A true Christian life is salt of the earth. It is good for this world, for the church of Christ, and for the individual Christian. And God appreciates the flavorful Christian. A Christian who loses that flavor cannot find its equal anywhere else. So, God considers him or her good for nothing, in a spiritual sense, but to be cast “out of doors.” Until he repents, such a person’s spiritual worth is similar to the flavorless salt that is trampled underfoot by men where life does not grow.

Salt is essential for life in this world. The gospel of Christ and a good, true Christian life are essential for spiritual salvation. Christians are the “salt of the earth” as examples of Christ and godliness. We should study and work to be flavorful Christians in this world. We do so by our examples, by helping other people in various good ways, and by helping to spread Christ’s gospel message to others.