Salting the Earth
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” ~ Matthew 5:13
Salt is good for many things. From ancient times it has been used as a preservative and disinfectant. Salt is composed of a positively charged ion, called a cation, and an ion of equal but negative charge, called an anion. To create table salt, a sodium atom gives up one electron to a chlorine atom. This is called an electrovalent bond. It creates a positively charge sodium ion and a negatively charged chloride ion. These ions are held in balance within the salt molecule.
Truly salty Christians need to be balanced like salt. We are positively charged with joy and peace. We are negatively charged with the fear of God. We take a positive stand in favor of love, holiness, truth, and purity. We take a negative stand against sin, compromise, and worldliness.
The Christian message also has equal but opposite charges. The conviction of sin is matched by the joy of salvation. The law of God condemns us, but the grace of God justifies us. In your Christian life, the dynamic tension between these two charges will have a great impact on your spirit and ministry. Too much focus on the negative will lead to personal bitterness and a poor attitude toward the lost. Too much focus on the positive will lead to an ineffective message that gives no reason for repentance. We must learn to live a balanced Christian life by doing the following:
Prayerfully Reading the Entire Bible
The whole counsel of God is necessary in order to know the mind of God on every issue. It is impossible to have good judgment without a working scale by which to weigh the matter at hand. We can do a great deal of damage if we only study our favorite passages or topics.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ had salty messages. The early chapters of Matthew show that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom by John and Jesus had a dual element. They preached a “turn or burn” sermon – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” In repentance, there was mercy; by impenitence there was judgment. Many of the prophetic passages of the Old Testament read the same way. There is the negative element of impending judgment and the positive element of future restoration and blessing. These are well-seasoned messages that disinfect the heart and guard us against the corrupting influence of sin. Christians need to continually season their lives with the salt of the Word of God.
Submitting to the Holy Spirit
We need the Holy Spirit’s control over our lives in order to guide our thoughts, intents, words, and actions. He is the electrovalent bond that keeps us balanced as He leads us in our daily lives.
Salty, Spirit-lead Christians preserve the moral culture of any society in which they live (though usually irritating the popular culture). They hinder the progress of sin and in so doing irritate the sinners who peddle it. Dr. J. Frank Norris once said, “Whenever you win souls you are going to stir up the blasphemers.”John 3:19 proves those words. It reads, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, andmen loved darknessrather than light, because their deeds were evil.” In being salty, believers slow down the progress of cultural rot and degradation. But more than simply standing against sin, we must demonstrate the joy, peace and righteousness that are possible in Christ. The world must look at the believer and turn to Christ, thirsting after righteousness. Salty Christians dry out the self-satisfaction of the flesh. The Holy Spirit will satisfy that thirst as they are blessed with the fountain of living water (John 4:10; 7:38).
Praying for a Loving Spirit
The ionic compound of sodium chloride is called salt. The ionic compound of the Christian testimony is called love. Love for God and mankind makes us want to see God glorified. When we deeply desire to do something, we’ll do it regardless of opposition.
Love does that which is in the best interest of the object loved, while taking no thought for self. Our behavior ought always to be for the best interest of our culture according to God’s Word, regardless of how the culture responds. We want healing for society because of the love of God shed abroad in our heart.
Chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians deal with spiritual gifts and how to use them. Nestled in the middle, chapter 13 shows that Christian love is vital to everything we do for God. We are warned, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am becomeassounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I havethe gift ofprophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feedthe poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (vs. 1-3). Without love, we’re good for nothing.
Standing with Boldness
Boldness is simply the courage to speak the truth in love. The armies of the ancient world would salt the ground of the defeated enemy in order to destroy the fruitfulness of the land. Abimelech did this at Shechem (Jud. 9:45). In like manner, we are involved in a spiritual battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Jesus declared us to be the “salt of the earth.” God has scattered the church over the earth in order to hinder the fruitfulness of Satan’s activities. Standing with boldness isn’t just a one-time event. If we want to gain any ground for the Lord, we must continue to be bold, but not in our own strength. We must “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10). As time goes by, salt that is continually exposed to the elements begins to degrade. It “loses its savour.” Likewise, Christians who spend too much time exposed to the world will lose their savor. Our relationship to the Lord is the single biggest factor in effectively salting the earth!
John Phillips writes:
Add sodium to hydrochloride and you will have salt, one of the most common, most useful substances on earth, a substance essential to life itself. Similarly, when God pours His grace into the hydrochloride of our lives, the result is a miracle: a regenerated person placed in the world for the blessing of all mankind.
A salty Christian is a valuable tool for God. In order to be effective in preserving our culture and disinfecting this sinful world, we must balance the positive and negative charges by prayerfully studying the whole counsel of God, submitting to the Holy Spirit, praying for a loving spirit, and standing boldly. The result is nothing short of the miraculous power of God, working in us and through us.
J. Frank Norris, But God and Other Sermons, ed. E. Bryan Clemens (Fort Worth: N.T.M. Press, Unknown) 80.
John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Matthew, John Phillips Commentary Series. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), 92.