You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless (v.13).
Salt is well-known for two popular uses. We use it as an additive to enhance flavor (think of the saltshaker on your kitchen table), and as a preservative to prevent decay (think of a butcher curing meat to keep it from rotting). Jesus used this metaphor to describe the dual influence everyday people like you and I are to have on the world in His name.
First, we’re to enhance what is good. Wherever we find goodness, beauty, and truth—in our homes, offices, and universities, and in colleagues, politicians, or those in the media—we should affirm it. Most of us know how to voice our disapproval, whether through a forthright comment or a letter of protest. But how many of us write letters of affirmation—going out of our way to encourage a public leader for a good decision?
When we enhance what’s good, we just might find a more welcoming audience when we perform our second influential role—to defeat what is bad. We’re to halt moral decay, to stop society from rotting. We’re to oppose actions, policies, and products that will bring harm to our neighbor, taking a stand against evil. The world may persecute us for this (5:10-12), but we’re called to love and serve those who are against us (vv.43-45). For evangelical statesman John Stott, Matthew 5:13 was Jesus’ call to social justice: protecting the dignity of the individual, providing civil rights for minorities, and abolishing social and racial discrimination. “Whenever Christians are conscientious citizens,” he said, “they are acting like salt in the community.”
Read Romans 12:9 for further guidance on exercising our dual influence in society.
Why do you think Jesus was so firm about our “salt” not losing its “saltiness”? How can you be more potent as a source of salt and light this week?