The Salt of the Earth
"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people." (NET)
This passage follows the Beatitudes, which describe the attitude a disciple of Christ is to have. The previous verses (vv. 10-12) are particularly concerned with persecution against the followers of Jesus Christ. This persecution is due to the fact that followers of Jesus are different from everyone around them. That is why Jesus calls us, His followers, the "salt of the earth." Why does He make this analogy? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with how salt is easily distinguished from other minerals and seasonings. It has a distinct taste. Therefore, as salt is distinguished by its flavor, followers of Christ should be distinguished by their attitude and actions. As salt enhances the flavor of food, Christians are to enhance the good in the world.
But, if Christians are no longer distinguished from the rest of world, what good are we? That is the point Jesus makes when He says, "if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?" This is obviously a contradiction, for salt cannot lose its saltiness. If it were possible, then it would no longer be salt. Thus, it would no longer be useful. This indictment against Jesus' followers is serious. For, if we lose our distinctiveness and usefulness, we are to be discarded. This is a challenge to true discipleship. "Tasteless salt lacks value, and so does a professed disciple who lacks genuine commitment" (Keener, 173). In other words, a disciple of Christ cannot be a nominal Christian.
Salt has many useful purposes. However, it can be hurtful as well if poured into a wound. Let us not be salt in the wound of a hurting person. Instead, let us give flavor to the world. Let us preserve morality and ethics. Let us be useful and flavorful to those around us. Let us share the good flavor of the Gospel with our co-workers, family members, neighbors, and friends.
I leave you with quote from Chrysostom (c. 347-407 A.D.): For by saying, "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus signifies that all human nature itself has "lost its taste," having become rotten through sin. For this reason, you see, he requires from his disciples those character traits that are most necessary and useful for the benefit of all. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 15.6.