“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13, NASB95)
The last beatitude in Matthew 5 that Jesus spoke of was concerning living righteous lives which reflect the righteousness of Christ which has been credited to us. This word “righteous” to some might come with a sense of aloofness or a better than you attitude. But this form of righteousness is one that is based in the works which the individual has done and as such it is more appropriately seen as self-righteousness. It is this self-righteous attitude which was common to the Pharisees and which Jesus strongly confronted. But the Bible speaks of another form of righteousness which we are to seek after, and it is one that is marked by personal integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. This righteousness comes from a heart and mind that knows that all of these are a grateful response to what God has done in us through salvation and as a result of His Spirit working in us to grow us in conformity to the image of His Son.
In the list of the synonyms used to describe righteousness is “purity.” It is this purity that Jesus speaks of in this next statement in Matthew 5, where He speaks of us as being the salt of the earth that does not lose its saltiness. According to all that I have read pure salt cannot lose its saltiness. It is only when salt becomes diluted that it seems less salty. And when it is diluted enough it loses all of its benefit both as a flavoring and as a preservative. It is at this point that salt for all intent and purpose is ready to be tossed aside and even trampled underfoot.
We live in a world that has suppressed the truth of God written on their hearts as we read in Romans chapter 1, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:18–21, NASB95)
In the verses which follow in Romans 1 the apostle Paul continues by illustrating this downward spiral of denying God and turning to “ungodliness and unrighteousness.” The list is by no means inclusive, but it is definitely descriptive to what happens when truth does not direct one’s life nor is purity the objective. Even those who profess Christ as their Savior can be subject to this desalinating process when they let the things of the world creep in and grab hold of various aspects of their lives. This can even affect churches when they are not careful in those they allow to teach God’s Word. In Acts chapter 20 we have a record of Paul’s instructions to the elders of the Ephesian churches in this regard.
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:27–32, NASB95)
The apostle Peter wrote in response to the salvation we have been freely given, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” … “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,” (1 Peter 1:13-16, 22, NASB95)
Sure there are a lot of ways we can look at salt as a vital part of our lives. There are numerous illustrations of how salt can be used, and there are large numbers of phrases concerning it that are even used in our common speech such as “not rubbing salt into someone’s wound” as if to make it even more painful.
Jesus calls us “the salt of the earth.” We are His sanctifying preservative in a world lost in sin, and we are the only ones that the world can look to who embody the work of God to save and change lives. As His ambassadors to this world we are called to live in such a way that others see our good works and glorify God. As we continue to live righteous lives there will be those who are greatly offended, but there WILL be others who truly do taste and see that God is good.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8, NASB95) As Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8, NASB95)