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10. The Beatitudes – You Are The Salt Of The Earth

Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 

In ancient Palestine salt was gathered from the Dead Sea, marshes along the seashore or from inland lakes. The crude facilities for gathering it resulted in the presence of many impurities. In contact with dampness, or exposed to rain, the highly soluble salt itself would be washed away, leaving only the insipid impurities.

The underlying idea in comparing citizens of the kingdom to salt is in its quality as a preservative Before the day of refrigeration and other modern modes of preserving food, salt and spices were largely used for preservation.

In ancient Palestine salt was used almost exclusively for this purpose and for seasoning.

Job 6:6  Can flavourless food be eaten without salt?

In a similar way the Christian, by becoming an agent in saving others through the diffusion of the gospel, exerts a preserving and purifying influence in the world.

The disciples were to recognize the salvation of their fellow men as their primary responsibility. They were not to withdraw from society, because of persecution or for other reasons, but were to remain in close contact with their fellow men.

Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

It would be as unthinkable for a Christian to lose his essential characteristics and still be a Christian as it would be for salt to lose its saltiness and still be considered and used as salt. If Christians are such in name only, their nominal citizenship in the kingdom of heaven becomes a farce. They are not Christians unless they reflect the character of Christ, regardless of what their profession may be.

When the love, power, and righteousness of Christ are lost from the life of a professed Christian, there is no other source to which he may turn to supply their lack. A nominal Christian cannot pass on to others that which he does not himself possess.

Salt was added to every sacrifice in the ancient ceremonial ritual.

Leviticus 2:13  And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Without salt it was unacceptable. Here, the salt typified the righteousness of Christ. In order that our lives may be “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1), they must be preserved and seasoned by the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (see Gal. 2:20).

Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 

A Christian from whose life the grace and power of Christ are lost is, as a Christian, “good for nothing.” Even more, he becomes a positive detriment to the cause of the kingdom by living a life that misrepresents the principles of the kingdom.

Salt is valued for its preservative properties; and when God calls His children salt, He would teach them that His purpose in making them the subjects of His grace is that they may become agents in saving others.

The object of God in choosing a people before all the world was not only that He might adopt them as His sons and daughters, but that through them the world might receive the grace that brings salvation.

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

When you and I mingle with people we should leave a taste like the taste of food that has the flavour of salt in it.

When Abraham heard the voice of God when he lived at Ur of the Chaldees, it was not simply to be the special friend of God, but to be a medium of the peculiar privileges the Lord desired to bestow upon the nations.

As Abraham travelled from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan, he erected altars and sacrificed a lamb to tell the people of a God who so loved the world, that He would one day send His sin to die for the sins of the world.

Polytheistic people had to climb the steps of the ziggurats to earn the favour of their cruel gods. But the coming Messiah would climb the hill of Calvary. He would be crucified in order to earn salvation for anyone who desires forgiveness for their sins.

Abraham proclaimed a saving religion that was like food with a taste of salt.

 Jesus, in that last prayer with His disciples before His crucifixion, said, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” John 17:19. In like manner Christians who are purified through the truth will possess saving qualities that preserve the world from utter moral corruption.

Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate and infuse in order to preserve. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving power of the gospel. They are not saved in masses, but as individuals. Personal influence is a power. We must come close to those whom we desire to benefit.

The savour of the salt represents the vital power of the Christian—the love of Jesus in the heart, the righteousness of Christ pervading the life.

The love of Christ is diffusive and aggressive. If it is dwelling in us, it will flow out to others. We shall come close to them till their hearts are warmed by our unselfish interest and love.

The sincere believers diffuse vital energy, which is penetrating and imparts new moral power to the souls for whom they labour. It is not the power of the man himself, but the power of the Holy Spirit that does the transforming work.

Jesus added the solemn warning:

Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 

As they listened to the words of Christ, the people could see the white salt glistening in the pathways where it had been cast out because it had lost its savour and was therefore useless.

The savourless salt represented the condition of the Pharisees and the effect of their religion upon society. The savourless salt also represents the life of every soul from whom the power of the grace of God has departed and who has become cold and Christless.

Whatever may be his profession, such a one is looked upon by men and angels as insipid and disagreeable. Listen to the saltless situation of the church of Laodicea:

Revelation 3:14  “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 

Revelation 3:15  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 

Revelation 3:16  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 

Revelation 3:17  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 

Revelation 3:18  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 

Revelation 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. 

My dear friend God wants to teach us the tremendous importance of the salt in our kitchens. Lately it is my great privilege to serve her breakfast in bed. Sometimes I slip up and forget to put salt in the porridge.

When she asked me to take it back, I was humiliated.

Without a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour it is impossible to make our influence felt in a sceptical world. We cannot give to others that which we do not ourselves possess. It is in proportion to our own devotion and consecration to Christ that we exert an influence for the blessing and uplifting of mankind.

If there is no actual service, no genuine love, no reality of experience, there is no power to help, no connection with heaven, no savour of Christ in the life. Unless the Holy Spirit can use us as agents through whom to communicate to the world the truth as it is in Jesus, we are as salt that has lost its savour and is entirely worthless.

By our lack of the grace of Christ we testify to the world that the truth which we claim to believe has no sanctifying power; and thus, so far as our influence goes, we make of no effect the word of God.

Listen how Paul explains the spiritual salt theme:

1 Corinthians 13:1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 

1 Corinthians 13:2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

1 Corinthians 13:3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 

4  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 

5  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 

6  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 

7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

8  Love never fails.

When love fills the heart, it will flow out to others, not because of favours received from them, but because love is the principle of action. Love modifies the character, governs the impulses, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections.

This love is as broad as the universe, and is in harmony with that of the work of angels. Cherished in the heart, it sweetens the entire life and sheds its blessing upon all around. It is this, and this only, that can make us the salt of the earth.

We are living in a wicked loveless world. The only cure for our corrupting society is a change of behaviour.  How does this miracle happen?

Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God’s blessing flows.

Were those who serve God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan’s dominion.

Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the world, of God’s people whom they despise and oppress.

Are you challenged to be the preserving salt of kindness and love for those around you?


Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Matthew 5:15  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

Matthew 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. 

Updated on 15th Nov 2022

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