What does it mean to be the salt of the earth

When I was younger; about 11 or 12, I struggled to understand the meaning of the bible verse Mathew 5:13. It says: 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.

I didn’t understand what it was meant to be salt. In my young mind I thought it meant to bring life and flavor in everything you did. I knew that salt is added to food to emphasize flavor. I thought as Christians we should not blend in the crowd, but stand out; positively. I thought it meant out presence should make a difference because food without salt is bland.

Salt when added to food in the correct proportion enhances, too little salt will not do, too much can make a potentially scrumptious meal inedible. So, I thought it meant being discipline and temperate. I don’t think the younger version of me was off the mark, but I attended an event and that text was quoted. The speaker said that it meant drawing water to ourselves, just like salt. During the winter salt is used to melt the snow because of its chemical properties. And that it can draw water to itself. He said we must be like salt and draw water to ourselves. And water symbolizes life. However, I still didn’t quite understand how I was supposed to be salt. How do I draw water to myself? How was I supposed to do as the bible instruct? I was not satisfied with the answer but I felt closer to the truth than I did a few years before. Since then I have many interpretations.

Today at church the pastor mentioned the verse and his interpretation was different. He rationalized salt as a preservative and we as Christians should preserve the word of the Lord in our hearts. We should teach the word and actively perpetuate the truth. I liked his interpretation because explained how I can “BE” the salt rather than know I am the salt. The other interpretations were sensible but it was dormant instead of active.

I sat there in the pew. And pondered on the journey I have taken with that one cryptic verse. I reviewed the previous interpretations and then I came up with another one.

Science has taught me, there isn’t one type of salt. There is a variety, most we do not consume. Each type of salt are composed of different elements and so, have divergent chemical properties. I believe that coincides with the different talent God has bestowed upon us. God has called his people to be the salt of the earth, which means he calls us to be different. To use our talents (different make up) to make a change. In the pass I have heard the interpretation of that verse to be in relation to table salt, but as a student of science I know that its only one type of salt.

I conclude by saying these interpretation may all be correct. The truth can have many forms. We are limited by our knowledge and backgrounds when we interpret the bible, but it is that very difference which yields unique interpretations. Aren’t our differences exhibiting us as the salt that we are?

Different interpretations may be needed for different situations, to touch the right heart for the Lord. I believe when we study the bible we should open our hearts to receive the word and ask God to help us understand the way he wants us to.

Stay blessed and keep studying. 🙂


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