Salt of the Earth
"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?"
This was the verse-of-the-day from Matthew 5:13, that opened in my email this morning. I've read it before but never in the light I saw it this time. You and I, as Christians, are called the salt of the earth because our lives enhance and give meaning to this existence we call life. Before salvation, we were like grains of sand, too numerous to count. But after receiving Christ, we were transformed - no longer like minuscule debris of rock having little or no difference from another lost piece of sand, to something distinctive in taste, texture, and aroma.
It may be an odd analogy, but when Jesus compared believers to salt He knew what He spoke of. Salt is a dietary mineral, used for flavoring and preservation. It is needed by all known living creatures. Although if abused, it can be harmful - it is also detrimental to human life to have no salt intake because it regulates the water content in our bodies. Jesus used salt to describe how Christians are needed to bring balance and hope to an otherwise dying world.
The question He asked however is, "What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?" In other words, if a Christian has lost his or her gusto and fervor, then what's the difference between the old grain of sand they once were and the so-called salt they are now? The answer is: very little.
Because of recent circumstances in my life, I looked at this scripture differently today than I'd seen it before. Trials and tribulations can cause weariness and doubts to settle upon us if we're not careful. And just like salt can become diluted in water, Christians can become diluted (or altered) by their experiences. For example, what one believed before traumatic events is sometimes not the same as afterwards. Why is that? There could be many reasons, but the most common is depression, fatigue, self-doubt, and ultimately doubt in what they believed in to begin with.
And we have to clearly understand there is an enemy at work in these cases. If we are the salt of the earth and it's possible to lose our flavoring, then it's no secret the Devil will do his best to make sure our effectiveness (our flavoring) isn't what it used to be. And if he had his way in every case, we'd have no flavoring left at all - returning to transparent grains of sand with no threat to him or his kingdom.
Jesus said, "Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another" (Mark 9:50). The sea is full of salt but it is only extracted through the process of boiling. The water must be removed to retain the salt. I don't like the idea of going through fiery trials, but if that's what it takes to recapture the "salt" in my life, than maybe I'm okay with that. What I've learned is that God is not the destroyer in this life. He said the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) - God is not the thief. God is the "Restorer" of broken lives and broken hearts. We can bless God because "...even though you have had to endure many trials, [these trials] show that your faith is genuine. It is tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. When your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring much praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).
The boiling process will either prove or disprove the amount of salt contained in a substance. In the same way, the trials of this life will either prove our lives are flavored by God or it will reveal how much we truly lack. Either way, if handled correctly, the end result can be beneficial. For the one, their revelation of Jesus Christ and His grace and faithfulness will increase; for the other, a realization of their small faith can push them to a deeper relationship with God because despite their response He remains the same... faithful. The only problem is God has left it to us, the "salt containers," to decide.
"So dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ [and what He went through], so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
What I have learned is that I cannot always control the trials I face, but I am the keeper of my "salt." Will I be bitter or better? Less seasoned or more flavorful? Will I disappear into the background or stand out as an overcomer? Because what good am I if I've lost my flavoring?