Are you worth your salt? (1 Dec 2019)

dollarsSalary and salad – In ancient days, salt is precious. The Latin ‘salarium’ (‘sal’ being salt) is payment made to Roman soldiers. A soldier’s salary was cut if he was not “worth his salt.” The word ‘salad’ also comes from ‘sal.’ Ancient Romans ate ‘herba salata’ (salted greens), that is, raw leafy vegetables covered with salty oily dressing.

Salt in the bible – The salt in Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, and Luke 14:34–35, are several varieties of salts used in the first century. They were not modern table salt (sodium chloride). They were mixtures of chlorides of sodium, magnesium, and potassium, with very small amounts of calcium sulfate (gypsum). So when salt loses its “saltiness” or “savor,” it refers to the disintegration of the compounds of salts over time, leaving behind gypsum. The residue of calcium sulfate is thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Mat 5:13).

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away” (Luk 14:34-35).

  1. earth means ‘soil’ or ‘humanity/inhabited earth’
  2. ‘lost its taste’ (in Greek is moranthe from the word ‘moron’ – means ‘make foolish or make tasteless’)

Agricultural salt stimulates growth of infertile soils. Fertilizing salt keeps dunghills from rotting and becoming useless. In Luke, this ‘saltless’ salt is useless as fertilizer or for the manure pile.

Disciples of Jesus can lose their saltiness through disobedience and carnality. ‘Saltless’ disciples are unlikely to want to bear witness for Christ or share the Gospel, or pray for the salvation of those who are lost. On the contrary, we all want to be ‘salted’ disciples, so that we can act as a stimulant for spiritual growth of the Gospel seed in the good soils of human hearts.

Salt is also used as a metaphor for ‘wisdom.’ Disciples are urged to be wise and not be foolish, so that they do the will of God while they are living on earth (Eph 5:15-17).  In everyday life, be alert and be wise, in conversation be gracious, seasoned with salt so as to give an account of our faith (Col 4:5-6).

For those who believe the Gospel, and are converted by the Holy Spirit, our investment of time and ‘salarium’ would win friends for eternity (Luke 16:9).

dishPlan to go out meet strangers in public places, or casual friends for a walk or close friends over a meal. Eat salad sprinkled with a little salt. Everyone needs a Saviour. You are the salt of the earth.

Are you worth your salt for Jesus? Shalom

Elder Yoong Yuen Soo