-Dr. Vivek Arunkumar Gundimi

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. – Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

Why did Jesus say, ‘you are the salt of the earth’? And how can a salt loose its saltiness? This article is a reflection on the teaching of Jesus in Matt 5:13. In Matt. 5:1 f, Jesus was referring to all the ‘faithful’ (righteous) people of God as he was teaching on a hillside near Capernaum. In that given context, Jesus makes an incredible metaphorical statement in referring the ‘faithful’ people of God as the salt of the earth.

What does it mean to be the ‘Salt’ of the Earth?

  1. Salt is tasty: The word ‘salt’ in Greek is halas. Figuratively ‘salt’ indicates effectiveness, strength, prudence, good sense, precaution.

 In Job 6:6, 7 Job says, “Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill.”

It is the presence of ‘salt’ in the food that makes the difference, causing us to enjoy food which we would otherwise have refused to eat.

  • Likewise, it is the presence of righteous people that makes the earth acceptable to God.
  • Our presence commends the earth to God’s mercy. In Gen. 18:22-33 Abraham was interceding for the righteous people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that they won’t be destroyed along with the wicked. And God replies to Abraham’s intercession by saying “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” (Gen 18:26).

God is looking for people who can add heaven’s taste on the earth.

  1. Salt makes a person thirsty: Salt makes us thirsty for water. ‘We’ the called out ones of the Lord, i.e. the ‘Church’ have to make others thirsty for the ‘water of life’ i.e. Jesus Christ. Psalm 42:1; Isa. 55:1 and Jer. 2:13 and Zech. 13:1, converse of thirsting after God as one thirsts for water. God is also referred to the fountain of life (Ps 36:9) and the spring of living water (Jer. 17:13). In John 4:10 when Jesus said to the Samaritan woman that he would give her the ‘living water’ that could forever quench a person’s thirst for God, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah who could give this gift that fulfills the desire of the soul. Christians have to make the world thirsty to know the difference that Christ makes in a believer’s life: spiritually, in complete wholeness and eternally.

Christians have to make the world thirsty by living a lifestyle of godliness. When we live a life of godliness, joyfulness, complete blessedness, people will thirst to know the source of our character. When we don’t compromise to the evil standards of this world, we will surely win the attention of the earth. Daniel’s faith in God and godly lifestyle created a thirst within King Darius to know the God of Daniel (Dan. 6:20).

  1. Salt preserves from destruction: Salt restrains the process of corruption. In the olden days, sailors who took meat on long voyages used salt as a preservative. The bacteria was already at work even before the meat was salted; salting did not abolish the bacteria (corruption of the meat), but it held it in check from further destruction for the duration of the voyage, so that the sailors could continue to eat the meat long after it would otherwise have become inedible.

Similarly, the process of sin’s corruption is already at work in this world. ‘We’ the Church cannot abolish corruption, but we can hold it in check until God’s appointed time. But when our influence is no longer needed (that is when rapture takes place), corruption will come to its climax and the result will be total degradation.

Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 that human wickedness will come to its climax in the person of a world leader the Antichrist; but until then we have been given the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Christ (2Thess. 2:6-7).

In Mark 9:50, Jesus says, “…Have salt in yourselves…” The word ‘Have’ in Mk.9:50 in Greek is echete (ecete) which is a plural word, with the present imperative mood. It’s a command! Meaning to say we must have salt in us! We have the function to preserve the world from the moral bankruptcy till the Rapture takes place. Christians by their lives and instructions are to keep the world from entire moral corruption by bringing down the blessings of God in answer to their spiritual warfare, prayers and by their influence through their lifestyle, preaching, teaching, evangelism; they can hence preserve the world from universal immorality until Rapture; just as salt preserves the food from complete destruction till a given time.

How can ‘salt’ loose its saltiness?

Physically speaking ‘salt’ contains sodium chloride. The salt can lose its sodium chloride (its saltiness) if it gets wet and if it dries up. Likewise, Christians can lose their saltiness, i.e. their ‘effectiveness’ on two grounds:

  1. When God’s Word is not on fire in their hearts they become spiritually wet.
  2. And also when God’s Word dries up in them!

These are the affects of the absence of mediation of Scriptures, and also the loss of the appetite for a relationship with God! The salt is not kept open for too long because it gets dried up, and hence loses its taste. When we are tightly filled with God’s word we are open to the devil’s challenges. We are the salt of the earth: we are not only sharing the gospel but we are building a Nation.


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