Ye are the salt of the earth….
— Matthew 5:13
In the verse above, Jesus taught that we are to be the salt of the earth. Considering the various uses of salt in the ancient world and how important salt was in that time, this statement carried great weight. When He likened His listeners to salt, all kinds of images flashed through their minds, and they understood the many connotations that salt carried with it. By using this illustration of salt, Jesus was teaching about the influence that we are supposed to have upon the world in which we live.
The word “salt” in Greek is the word halas, and it describes salt exactly like the salt we use in our homes and kitchens today. Today salt is so common that it can easily be purchased in any grocery store. But in New Testament times, salt was an expensive and treasured commodity that was crucial and needed in many spheres of life, as you will see in today’s Sparkling Gem.
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High-quality salt could only be found in a few places in Israel. One location was the Hill of Salt, a seven-mile stretch located on the southwest coast of the Dead Sea. Salt could also be collected from the marshes situated along the embankment of the Dead Sea, or it could be gathered from salt pits near the Dead Sea. In each of these locations, the gathering of salt was an expensive process, which made the salt very costly. It was a commodity so rare that it was seldom wasted, sparingly used, and highly valued.
Salt was used as a preservative.
Especially in the warm temperatures of Israel, meat would quickly rot, spoil, and decay. But when salt was added, it acted as a preservative. Therefore, salt was very important in the preservation of meats and other kinds of perishable foods.
Those who heard Jesus’ teaching that we are to be “the salt of the earth” therefore understood that He meant that through our influence, we should be a preserving force in a world that is filled with rot, spoil, and decay. God’s Word working in our lives causes us to be like salt, and our very presence helps abate the corruption that is eating away at the world.
Salt was used as a flavor enhancer.
Salt is one of the most profound enhancers of taste that exists in the culinary world. An eater quickly becomes aware of how powerful this flavor enhancer is when he eats food that contains no salt. Unsalted food is often monotonous, bland, and uninteresting, but when salt is added, the flavor is ignited. Just like today, salt was used in the ancient world to give food a stronger and richer flavor. It was considered essential for the long-term preservation of food and for the enhancement of taste. Therefore, it was vital in every kitchen.
This tells us that not only should our presence abate the evil in the world, but our presence should also change the flavor of society as we bring the savor of Christ to our surroundings wherever we go.
In light of this, let me ask you: In what ways does your personal presence make a difference in your world? Are you doing your job as the salt of the earth?
Salt was used as an antiseptic.
In the ancient world where dirt and disease were common enemies to health, salt was used as an antiseptic. Especially in areas considered unclean, tainted, or contaminated — areas so filthy that it could potentially become hazardous to one’s health — it was believed that salt would work like a disinfectant. If properly applied in heavy doses, salt sanitized, hygienically cleansed, and made a location relatively germ-free. The application of salt in such circumstances was considered to be enormously advantageous because people believed such an application of salt sterilized non-sterile environments.
If a rapidly spreading disease was known to exist in a village, the sick people were cleared out and relocated, and salt was immediately spread to disinfect the contaminated area and to prevent the further spread of disease. Salt was such a powerful cleansing force that the ancient world believed it would assist in freeing the environment of infection.
As an antiseptic, salt was used in the fodder of barns and barnyards — places where sickness and disease could swiftly spread among animals. A small dose of salt scattered on the fodder of a barn or barnyard served as a deterrent to the proliferation of sickness and disease among animals.
Therefore, when Jesus said we are to be “the salt of the earth,” those who heard Him understood that through our influence, we are called to be a kind of spiritual antiseptic to a world that is diseased with sin. Even a small dose of the spiritual salt we carry within ourselves is such a powerful disinfecting agent that if scattered in society, it will help deter the spread of sin and moral decay.
You see, if you are doing your job as “the salt of the earth,” your very presence can hinder the proliferation of sin and its effects. So when you look at your life and the things that surround you, do you see any evidence that your personal presence is making a difference and that you are helping to promote a more spiritually sanitized environment? Are you doing your job as the salt of the earth?
Salt was used as a medicinal and healing agent.
Salt was also a very important ingredient for physicians and those employed in the field of medicine, for they used salt as a healing agent. For instance, if a person was severely wounded, salt was poured into the wound to sanitize the wound from germs, to stop the spread of infection, to stop the bleeding, and to speed up the healing of the wound. It is a fact that salt has healing properties that cause wounds to heal more readily.
In the ancient world where medications were rare, salt was an indispensable product in every doctor’s medical bag, and it was especially valuable in cases where there was an open wound. In every home, business, and public place, salt was kept close at hand in case it was needed for the treatment of an open wound or sore. It was always kept nearby for emergency treatments.
When Jesus said that His people were to be “the salt of the earth,” those who heard Him understood that through our influence, we should be carriers of physical healing to a world that is suffering with all manner of sickness and ailments. Through the preaching of God’s Word and personal ministry to those who are physically ill, we are supposed to be “the salt of the earth” that brings healing those who are physically suffering. The fact is, the power of the Holy Spirit that we carry within ourselves is fully sufficient to administer physical healing to those afflicted with sickness and disease — always, of course, in the authority given to us in the Name of Jesus!
As “the salt of the earth,” you are a vehicle God has chosen to carry healing power to those who are struggling physically. When you look around you, is there evidence to show that you are carrying this power to those who are physically infirm or challenged in some way, just as Jesus has asked you to do? Are you doing your job as the salt of the earth?
Salt was used to give protection from and to drive away evil spirits.
In the ancient world, salt was also a very important ingredient used in pagan religious rituals to give protection from and to drive away evil spirits. At the time Jesus said we are to be “the salt of the earth,” Israel was subject to Rome, and because of this, they regularly witnessed the pagan practices of Roman religions. One practice of the Romans and other pagan religions of the time was rubbing salt over a newborn baby in order to protect that child from evil spirits or to drive evil spirits away from that child. It was commonly believed in many pagan nations that salt had magical powers to protect one from evil and to drive away evil spirits.
The Romans and other pagans believed so wholeheartedly in the magical, protective powers of salt that they regularly administered heavy quantities of salt to the thresholds of their homes and businesses, believing it would create a strong barrier that evil spirits could not cross. They also spread salt on their windowsills, believing that salt could keep evil spirits from entering their homes or places of business through the windows.
So those who heard Jesus say that Christians were to be “the salt of the earth” understood that through our influence, we are to be a source of spiritual protection, deliverance, safety, and freedom to people who have been assaulted by demonic powers. By using Jesus’ name and spreading God’s Word, we can create spiritual barriers so strong that Satan is unable to successfully attack those standing on God’s promises. We are to be carriers of protection, safety, and deliverance!
When you look around at the people who are near you, do you see that they are spiritually protected, experiencing deliverance, safety, and freedom from the attacks of the enemy? Are their lives different, safer, and better because of you?
Salt was used as a fertilizer.
Salt was also a very important ingredient used by farmers to enrich and fertilize their soil in order to produce larger crops of a higher quality. Even a small amount of salt scattered sparingly on the ground could improve the quality of the soil and result in bigger harvests and healthier crops. Therefore, it was viewed as an essential ingredient in the farming industry. The best salt nourished and stimulated the earth to produce better crops.
When Jesus said we were to be “the salt of the earth,” it could actually be translated “the salt of the soil.” The implication is that through our influence, we should affect the world in which we live. In other words, our very presence should enhance life and make this world a better place to live. The world we touch should become productive and our godly presence should positively impact the quality of life for those around us. That is how much power we have as believers!
So as the “salt of the earth,” we are to enrich the atmosphere wherever we go through our influence, simply because we carry the life of God within us. As carriers of His presence, we make life better for those around us. When we walk into a situation, the environment surrounding us is filled with more peace, joy, and hope than it was before we arrived! As the salt of the earth, we have the power to make a difference everywhere we are scattered.
Are you making a difference in every place where you find yourself?
In Colossians 4:6, the apostle Paul also used the word “salt” to tell us that our conversation should be “seasoned with salt.” In light of what you have read today, this means that instead of speaking complaining, critical, negative words with the rest of the world, you can exert a spiritually positive influence on your environment. When you’re seasoned with salt, you will speak:
- Words that bring preservation.
- Words that flavor life and make it “taste” better.
- Words that bring healing to the sick.
- Words that “disinfect” and free those who were once were contaminated.
- Word that are filled with protection, safety, and deliverance.
- Words that are so faith-filled, they create a blessed environment around us.
Jesus plainly taught that we are supposed to be the salt of the earth! Considering the various ways salt was used in the ancient world, can you see how powerful Jesus’ point is?
If you are doing your job as “the salt of the earth,” there should be fruit all around you to show that God’s “salt” in you is doing its job. As you take a look around your life, can you see visible proofs of your “salty” influence?
Before you do anything else today, why don’t you take a few minutes to reflect on your life to see if you are having the kind of influence on your world that Jesus wants you to have. The Holy Spirit will help you honestly assess your fruit so you can see if you are doing your job as “the salt of the earth” the way God has called and equipped you to do!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I am so thankful that You called me to be “the salt of the earth.” Today I want to step forward and surrender to be the salt of the earth that You intended me to be. Help me guard my mouth so that I speak words that bring preservation; words that make life better; words that bring healing to the sick; words that disinfect and free people who once were contaminated by evil; words that are filled with protection, safety, and deliverance; and words so faith-filled they create a blessed environment everywhere I go. Jesus has called me to be the salt of the earth, and that is exactly what I am going to be!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that I am what God’s Word says I am — and Jesus called me the salt of the earth, so that is exactly what I am. Because of who He is in me, I am a preserving, healing, delivering, life-enhancing force that positively affects every person every place I go. It isn’t me, but it’s the Greater One who lives in me that makes such a powerful difference in my environment. Because He lives in me, I am able to positively influence everyone my life touches. I am the salt of the earth!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What did you learn new from today’s Sparkling Gem? What made the greatest impact on you about what it means to be the salt of the earth?
- Can you think of ways you are acting like salt in the lives of other people in the lives of others in your family, church, community, or workplace? How have others changed in those environments because of your presence?
- When you listen to the words that come out of your mouth, can you honestly say that your words are “seasoned with salt”? Is your mouth regularly filled with words of preservation, healing, freedom, cleansing, protection, safety, deliverance, and faith? Do your words create a changed, positive environment, or do your words have a contrary effect?