What Does It Mean to be the Salt of the Earth?

My favorite grocery store has an incredible variety of salt. There’s your ordinary sea salt but then there’s amazing varieties I’d never seen before. Pink sea salt from the Himalayas. Black sea salt from Hawaii. A strange pearly-looking variety from India. There are even some smoked and flavored varieties. It’s quite a display.

They are all basically the same thing – salt is, after all, still salt – and yet each of these varieties offers something unique. There’s color, texture, scent, flavor. Each type has it’s own application and specialty. Some are better with steak and others with seafood. Some would taste fantastic on popcorn and others would possibly ruin it. They are all different.

The point is that all of these varieties have very little in common aside from the fact that they are all salt (and so far I have yet to find one that doesn’t pair well with chocolate). None of them are right or wrong. There isn’t a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ salt in the selection. It is all a matter of taste and preference.

On first glance, some of them may not look much like traditional salt at all. Some of us – in fact, many of us – would probably rather stick with our traditional table salt or regular sea salt than venture into the unknown with these strange and sometimes intimidating-looking varieties.

 

 
Yes – this is salt. Photo Credit: Black Hawaiian Sea Salt

Yes – this is salt.
Photo Credit: Black Hawaiian Sea Salt

 

 

We – you and I, all of us – have all been called to be the salt of the earth. We don’t look the same, think the same or act the same. We have different interests, different passions, different histories and backstories that have made us who we are. We come from different places and so we perceive things a little differently. We make different choices and are presented with different opportunities. Our ambitions and contributions and talents vary. Sometimes we flourish. Sometimes we fail.

In a manner of speaking, you might say we all have different flavors.

Some of us are highly refined. We are people of privilege who wear nice clothes, have good manners and seem a little more sophisticated than others. We are educated, smart, talented, witty, charming. We are successful. Sometimes, we are proud. When we’re stacked next to others, we sometimes seem a little more palatable or easy to digest.

Others of us are a little rougher around the edges. We have texture and character. Perhaps we’ve been beaten around by the storms of life. We’ve faced challenges and endured suffering. We’re weathered and worn and battered and bruised. Perhaps we were conquered or perhaps we were the conquerors. Maybe we’ve battled addiction, slayed bad habits and emerged broken but ready to be reborn. Maybe it’s something of a miracle that we’re still intact, even.

You might say we have different textures.

Different textures. Different flavors. Different appearances.

Just like the salt, we are different and yet we are the same.

We are the salt of the earth.

Ye are the salt of the earth:

but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?

it is thenceforth good for nothing,

but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

-Matthew 5:13

 

Salt enhances flavor.

We can contribute our time, talents, abilities and unique personalities to grow and strengthen our families, friends and neighborhoods. If we make ourselves available and seek opportunities to do so, we can strengthen and bless others by our thoughtful acts of kindness and service.

Salt is a preservative.

Just as salt preserves the quality and freshness of food, faithful followers of Christ can preserve His truth and His light in a world full of shifting values. As the inconsistent priorities and standards of the world continue to change, we can hold fast to His truth and become an anchor to those around us.

Salt has spiritual significance.

In the Old Testament, the Lord commanded that all sacrifices be liberally salted. A chemical reaction between the salt and the flesh of the sacrificed animal ensured that a sweet smell would emanate from the sacrifice, rather than the charred odor of burned flesh. To be acceptable, all offerings had to be liberally salted and achieve that sweet smell. However, only salt that was pure would satisfy because impure salt quickly lost its savor. Likewise, our purity is essential to our purpose – and our purpose is to sweeten the earth.

 

 
Yup, this is salt, too. Photo credit: Alaea Sea Salt

Yup, this is salt, too.
Photo credit: Alaea Sea Salt

 

 

We are the salt of the earth. However, just like the salt at the store, we’re all packaged a little differently. We come in all colors, shapes, sizes, flavors and textures. None of us is better than the other – we are all, after all, salt – and each one of us has a distinct, individual and important purpose. Our variety is beautiful – and that’s exactly how God intended it to be.