Salt is a mineral we cannot live without. We benefit from its chemical properties as an essential nutrient for human health through its role as an electrolyte and osmotic solute. And yet, if we consume too much, it can make us ill and even be deadly.
We use salt as seasoning in food, as well as a preservative to increase the shelf life of certain food. Even so, we use it in moderation in order to avoid the ill effects of excessive consumption.
As a metaphor and its use in biblical text, salt’s seasoning and preserving qualities (while used in moderation) encourages readers to exercise restraint, as mentioned in Colossians 4:6. The writer suggests, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
In earlier verses of the same text, the Apostle Paul tells us to rid ourselves of all forms of immorality and to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiving each other and covering these virtues with love.
You and I struggle with immorality of all kinds, though we often deny they occur. We do behave badly and need to recognize these failings, repent, find forgiveness and move forward by clothing ourselves with virtue.
That said, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, plus forgiveness are the necessary ingredients in this “salt’s” ability to preserve and season one’s conversation and behavior. It is impossible for us to live this way without them.
Sadly, in today’s politically incorrect and emotionally charged environment, the seasoning quality within our speech is sorely lacking as people throw caution to the wind and “exercise” their freedom to speak their mind. The end-game is not about finding consensus, or even agreeing to disagree, but to humiliate and “destroy” anyone who dares to speak out in support of an opposing view. This tactic has a chilling effect, to the point that the dominant view is in control of everything.
Another scripture describes the seasoning properties of salt as Christ is teaching his followers how to live. “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
Discussion following the post-election cycle reflects a lack of concern regarding the seasoning affect Christians have on society. Though we certainly voice concern over declining moral values, the focus is narrow and precisely defined; abortion, marriage between one man and one woman, second amendment and immigration are the hot-button issues, plus the upcoming SCOTUS appointment.
As people “of the Book,” however, our seasoning effect runs far deeper than supporting the talking points of a political agenda. Our mission transcends politics and seeks to transform lives as we invite them into fellowship with our Creator, our Savior and Redeemer. We have not been called to qualify redemption from sin, according to a check-off list of a Republican or Democrat party agenda. We are called to invite them all in to God’s presence, just as they are, without prejudice or malice. It is God’s work which transforms them from living a destructive lifestyle to one which God is pleased.
We who have already been rescued from sin’s curse, and because we know how dreadful our fate had been before we found the way to eternal life, should be fully aware of our purpose. We are merely sinners pointing the way for other sinners, to find the one who can rescue them from certain death. This is the work of salt. This is why it is useful.
When we back away from our new nature as people who live according to that calling, we are losing not only our effectiveness as witnesses to God’s mission on earth, we have lost our saltiness.
We were not designed to become gravel for a road, but to live a life as a living sacrifice, which is full of purpose and directs other people to God.