Three ingredients, that’s all it takes. I have to laugh every time someone asks me for the recipe that makes my homemade burgers taste so good. I think the key is that I hand-mix the seasoned salt, minced onions and Worcestershire sauce into the ground beef. The flavors mingle into a perfect salty-spicy blend because the patties are seasoned from the inside out. The thicker-than-store-bought burgers also stay juicier, making them even more flavorful.
Sometimes when I’m in a rush, I’ve tried cutting corners by just sprinkling the seasonings on the top of the burgers, but my family can always tell the difference. Meat that is marinated or flavored throughout has a better taste and texture. (Are you getting hungry yet?)
I was thinking about those delicious burgers recently as I studied Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “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.” (Matthew 5:13, ESV) Jesus appealed to our sense of taste here to make an important point. A spice like salt serves a specific purpose- it brings flavor to food. There would be no reason to sprinkle it on if it didn’t add flavor, would there?
So what is Jesus’ point in this illustration? Could it be that we, as His followers, are called to “flavor” the atmosphere surrounding us with His love and grace? When people spend time with us, do we influence them in ways that honor Jesus and draw them closer to Him?
When you answer these questions, don’t just think of those times when you’re at your best. Think about who you are when you assume no one else is paying attention. How do you flavor the atmosphere when you’re in a hurry or your day isn’t going the way you want? How do you flavor the atmosphere when someone is making life difficult or when a long-term situation is not ideal? What about when you’re having health issues or relationship troubles?
At times when we’re struggling with challenges, we’re prone to fall into temptation and sin. We rationalize and make excuses for our poor behavior and we lose our “saltiness” in the process. This also happens when we let sin go unaddressed in our lives or when we begin to conform to the culture around us instead of adhering to God’s standards. When we fall into this trap, the taste we leave behind with others is no different from the rest of the world.
When salt is mined, it contains impurities that must be removed before we consume it. These impurities cause it to lose some of its flavor. In the same way, we can lose some of our Christ-like essence when we mix with impurities in the world. Although the Holy Spirit never leaves us once we’ve surrendered our lives to Christ, we must be careful to keep sin from hindering His work in and through us.
Salt doesn’t expire, but when ingredients like iodine or other seasonings are added to it, they reduce its shelf life. In the same way, we reduce our effectiveness in the kingdom of heaven when we add to God’s grace with our man-made lists of rules and behaviors (similar to the Pharisees that were listening to the Sermon on the Mount.)
It’s brilliant, really, that with this one analogy Jesus addressed two extremes– those wrapped in the impurity of worldly choices and those wrapped in the legalism of adding to God’s perfect plans. Since Jesus was there when salt was created along with the rest of the earth, I guess it makes sense.
It has been estimated that salt has 14,000 different industrial uses. It plays a major role in the food industry as well as in medicine, metal fabrication, chemical production and more. Clearly, it plays a crucial part in many aspects of life. Like salt, God uses Christians in countless ways to bless others and further His kingdom. Responding to Jesus’ call to be the salt of the earth gives us the privilege and responsibility of having a tremendous impact on our world when we marinate in God’s Word and let His Spirit flavor our lives.
We can’t become “salty” on our own—it only happens through Holy Spirit. Click on the link to hear Francesca Battistelli sing “Holy Spirit” and invite Him to fill the atmosphere surrounding you right now.
*Information on salt is from mortonsalt.com
*Inspired by Jen Wilkin’s Sermon on the Mount, Lifeway, 2014. Week 3