Is salt good? We are often told by medical authorities to cut back on the amount of salt we have as it causes fluid retention, high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease or stroke. So I ask again, is salt good? You can drink water to sustain your life, but when people who have been cast adrift at sea drink salt water, it sends them mad and they die. So let me say it once more, is salt good?
Well Jesus says that salt IS good in the first verse of this section of scripture so we had better try to understand what he is talking about as there will be a great lesson there for all of us.
Salt is Good
OK first up let’s get this question out of the way. Is salt good? Yes it is, in moderation. Salt adds flavour to food and without salt food is bland. But too much salt ruins food and causes the kinds of health problems mentioned above.
So as in many other situations, moderation is the key. And unfortunately in this day and age where so much of our food is highly processed with loads of added salt, it is not uncommon that we overdose on salt. Even many breakfast cereals have huge amounts of salt (just check a Corn Flakes packet and see how much salt there is in them!)
Doctors today tell us to throw away the salt shaker because there is already so much salt in our food. Dietitians advise to eat fresh foods because they do not have added sugars, preservatives and salt. This was not the case in Jesus’ day and so salt added flavour to meals and thus he said salt is good. But there are more reasons why Jesus makes this analogy.
You are the Salt of the Earth
In another place Jesus talks about his people saying, “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13) He has said in Luke that salt is good and then in Matthew says that his people are the salt of the earth. So what he is saying is that his people are what makes this earth good. Just like salt adds flavour to a meal and takes away blandness, Christians add “flavour” to the earth. In the Lord’s eyes, without Christians the earth would be a bland place. There would be no value in it as the rest of the world is evil.
In Jesus day too, salt was not easily obtained as it is today. It was considered highly valuable and in fact it was often given to soldiers as part of their pay, which is where the word “salary” comes from. Salt was much sought after and anyone who had access to salt was in a good position to trade for items of great value.
So knowing this, when Jesus called his people the “salt of the earth,” He is saying that they are highly valuable. As people they add value to the earth as salt adds flavour to a meal.
Salt that Loses its Taste
Now in this section of Luke 14 and also the scripture mentioned in Matthew 5, Jesus talks about salt that loses its taste. If there is no taste in salt it is worthless. It cannot be used on food and he says you can’t throw it over the soil on your land as it will ruin the growing potential of the earth. Similarly you can’t throw it onto the dunghill, that is, to produce compost or fertiliser as the salt will kill the worms and bacteria that compost the dung and mulch.
Salt that loses its saltiness is worthless. And Jesus is again using this as an analogy for his people. When his people turn away from the truth and lose their way, they too become worthless. They become like the rest of the world who in Gods eyes are the “blandness of evil” in the world. In fact they are worse than the people of the world as there is a hope that the people of the world will come to Christ and become “salt.” But when someone turns away from the Lord and gives up their Christian walk they are useless.
Have Salt in Yourselves
In the Mark version of this teaching Jesus goes a little further. He says, “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50)
He teaches us here to have salt in ourselves. We are to be seasoned as if with salt, and the salt we need to have is the recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to learn his ways so that we can walk in accordance with God. When we live according to the ways of the Lord we are the salt of the earth and we do have salt in ourselves.
We need to study the word and take it to heart. Come to the Lord in prayer so that he can teach us and we can mature. Then we shall have the salt of the Lord in our lives and be the salt of the earth as he desires.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Ramon Gonzalez)