There are a few places where Jesus speaks directly to us in scripture, telling us of our identity. Just like no one can know a product better than its creator, no one can know us better than He does. In, through, and by Him were we created. Therefore, when Jesus makes a bold statement such as this one in Matthew 5:13, telling us our identity, our best bet is to take his word for it.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.Matthew 5:13 NIV
From the days of Sunday school in children’s church, many of us have memorised this portion of scripture, even able to quote it in our sleep. But only a few of us really understand what Jesus was on about. Only a few of us really know what it means to be the salt of the earth. Today’s blog post will shed more light on it.
This was one of Jesus’ first sermons during His ministry. He started out His ministry by informing us of our identity (Matt. 5:13-16). Subjecting yourself to a constant reminder of who you are helps you to be nothing less of that. Jesus’ timely reminder of our identity was so that we would not stray from it. Just like He lived in constant and continuous consciousness of His identity and never conformed to other standards, He wanted us to do the same.
A major characteristic of salt is flavour. If you are cooking soup, it doesn’t receive flavour or sweetness until you add salt to it. Whenever a food tastes bland, salt becomes the hero that wears a cape. Therefore, when Jesus likened us to salt, calling us the salt of the earth, He was calling us the flavour of this earth. In this bitter world, we must live by our identity to bring that flavour or sweetness. Our words and way of life should be threatening to roots of bitterness.
If salt loses its saltiness, that is, if it loses what makes it salt –which is the flavour –it becomes useless (vs. 13b). As believers, we must be very cautious that we do not lose our saltiness. In fact, we must be wary of anything called bitterness. Wherever we sense bitterness, we must strive to do away with it, whether it be springing up in us or we sense it in another person (Heb. 12:15; Eph. 4:31). The moment we get comfortable with bitterness or we no longer have a solution to it, we begin to lose our purpose.
Even till Jesus’ last breath, He was bringing flavour to someone’s bitter life. He was already hanging on the cross, a few breaths away from death when this happened. Those who He had called friends had betrayed Him and people who He had helped and had praised Him were now so vile towards Him. He had every reason to be bitter towards them. Yet, He prayed for them (and us) on that cross and spoke sweetening words of hope to the thief at the cross (Luke 23:34, 42-43). That thief was in a bitter situation –though self-inflicted –he was doomed for an unsure eternity. But Jesus brought flavour into his life by His promise of paradise to the thief.
Dear believer, there is no justification for you to act outside of your identity. If Jesus Christ has by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit called you the salt of the earth, then that is what you are. No matter how spiritual you are, you lose kingdom relevance when you lose your saltiness.
For better understanding, salt could also be likened to hope. Remember that just after Jesus had called us salt, He called us light. The hope of a dark room is light, the hope of a bland or bitter soup is salt. Likewise, the hope of this world is believers. When we fail to carry with us our torch of hope, we are already losing purpose. Wherever Jesus went, hope was restored. A person received hope of good things to come for whatever had caused bitterness. The woman with the issue of blood battled a severe ailment for years, going from physician to physician with no hope. It was a bitter situation but the moment she heard Jesus was passing through her area, hope was restored. She got her healing and her bitterness dissipated (Luke 8:43-48). In essence, a believer must be a bringer of hope. Jesus brought us hope and as He is, so are we on earth.
The only way to bring hope to people at all times is to carry Jesus. First by carrying His personality. That is, allowing our words and lifestyle to align with His, full of grace and full of hope, through the help of the Holy Spirit. Then through the gospel, by sharing and telling it –since it is a message of hope.
Nevertheless, we can only function perfectly in our identity when we first have knowledge of it through constant study of the scriptures and by a total reliance on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to be more like Christ, in whom our identity is hidden.