The well-seasoned servant

Shake, shake, shake. Before I eat my morning plate of dining hall scrambled eggs, there is something I need to add, something that’s missing. Salt. As I picked up the shaker this morning I was particularly reminded of Christ calling us to be “salt of the earth” in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:13). In this sense, we are called to be set apart and distinct from the worldliness surrounding us — a very beautiful image. But nowadays, it is undesirable to be called salty. “Salty” has become a slang term used to describe someone who is irritated or bitter, as the feeling of salt on the tongue can evoke such emotions. The current commonality of salt and the negative connotation it has detracts from its original metaphorical meaning, and I see this as a great opportunity for us to be reminded of what it means to be “the salt of the earth”. 

Salt has many dimensions that can be explored metaphorically. First, salt is a seasoning, something that we are familiar with. It improves the taste of things and is used metaphorically in the Bible in Colossians 4:6 when we are told that our conversations ought to be “seasoned with salt” and “full of grace”. In other words, salt improves. It also preserves. Salt preservation is a common method of keeping meat edible for long periods of time. Rubbing salt into meat and letting it dry sucks out moisture within the meat and fights off rot, bacteria, and other unwanted organisms. It is commonly seen today in your local deli aisle with a massive variety of salted and cured meats from pastrami to capicola (or “gabagool” as Michael Scott would say). The kingdom of God endures in the same way that salt preserves. 

Leviticus 2:13 mentions that all of our grain offerings should contain salt with the same purposes as mentioned above, i.e. to preserve and improve the offering. Salt is also used in this instance as it has incredible value, so much so that it was used as a means of payment for Roman soldiers (a Wikipedia rabbit hole). This was also known as a “salary” coming from the Latin word for salt, “salis”. Though today it is commonplace for us to have salt wherever we go and to view it as a cheap spice, that was not always the case. Whenever we are given the title of salt of the earth in the Bible, it indicates that we are highly valued by the Lord. 

Salt is also a disinfectant which can be seen in the many saline products that are used in the medical field, as salt kills microbes and dries out wounds. The purity that salt has is dispersed to whatever it touches, cleansing it. In the same way, through Christ, we can be used to help cleanse the souls of those whom we encounter, disinfecting evil from the world. Moreover, salt is a needed mineral for the living organism as it helps with bodily functions and is seen in everything from electrolyte sports drinks and pickle pops for humans to salt blocks for deer and ibexes climbing the sides of dams to lick off the salt from the walls. The world needs followers of Christ and we need each other just as our own bodies call out for salt.

Back in biblical times, salt was used as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a ceremonial offering, and a unit of exchange. In fact, salt at one time was more valuable than gold, some say, in terms of its usage and scarcity. With this high valuation, we can take heart in being called the salt of the earth as, through Christ’s sacrifice for us, we are also given high value in the eyes of the Lord. 

So, next time you spill your salt shaker and take a pinch of it to toss over your shoulder (another Wikipedia rabbit hole), let it remind you of your calling by Christ to be the salt of the earth, set apart for the purification and preservation of His kingdom.

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