Unless you’ve studied it, you may not know the meaning of salt in the ancient world. We have it on the table, in many different colors and flavors. It’s less than two bucks at the supermarket. We sprinkle it on our roadways when it’s icy or snowy.
The Meaning: Salt wasn’t always that easy to get. People were paid in salt. In fact, the word salary is because of this. It could be found in natural salt licks in a few places, some salt wells or from a body of salty water. It wasn’t usually ground up, either. It was (and is) rock. In those days it was a precious commodity.
The Salt Covenant: The peoples of the ancient world, including the Jews, believed that if you ate at a table which had salt on it, you were obligated to or in covenant with the others at the table. It is why Jews and gentiles didn’t eat together. In the same way, the Law demanded that all offerings to God be made with salt; to be in a salt covenant with Him.
I have heard it said that another ritual happened in some negotiations. The people in the negotiations had a pouch of salt in their belt. Once the agreement was reached, each would place a pinch of salt from his bag into the bag(s) of the others in the negotiations. Only if those exact grains of salt could be extracted from the bags could the agreement be broken.
Flavors the Dish: If a dish is bland, the cook may add a pinch or two of salt. Salt is an excellent flavor enhancer. It doesn’t take a lot, but it is very important to the outcome of the food prepared.
We are called to be the salt of the earth. Now that the meaning is understood, how do we act on it?
The Rock: We stand on the Rock. Jesus built His church on the rock, and there’s no reason it can’t be as valuable as salt was at the time. If we stand on the Rock, in His church, we can learn to be the salt of the earth.
Covenant: We are in a new Covenant with God. This Covenant is in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. By His blood we are washed clean. It doesn’t matter who we eat or drink with, because this Covenant is greater. On the other hand, we shouldn’t consider ourselves greater, for it is not us who made the Covenant. Instead, we are to follow His commandments and reach out to our brothers and sisters, salt or no salt.
Flavor: One Christian, following the commands and example of Christ can bring others to Him. There is more to this, though. Jesus goes on to say “if the salt has lost its flavor it is good for nothing but being thrown out to be trampled on.” We have to be what Christ wants us to be in order to do His work.
We are the salt of the earth, but not because of anything we ever did. It is all through the work and sacrifice of Jesus. Amen.