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Pearls of the Kingdom 5/8/24

Last week I had shared only the first part of Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.”  As with any portion of scripture one must consider the “whole” and not just the “part.” So this week let us look at the rest of this verse in Matthew 5:13;


“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.”


There has been much discussion in regards to this quote made by Jesus. Just what is he trying to convey to his audience. Not sure I have all the answers but sense enough to challenge us, perhaps change us, maybe convict us or just stir us up for further discussion. There is so much here that it will take two weeks for us to look at this. I will be on vacation next week so we will pick up part two in two weeks. This will give you some time to ponder this verse further.


We were encouraged last week with this thought, using the word “salt” that in our faith journey, as a Christian, as a Christ Follower that our lives are to be like salt. My key thought was, “that salt must be applied too something, touch something, come into contact with something for it to be useful. Salt left inside a box, saltshaker does nothing to add flavor, aid in healing, act as a preservative. Salt needs to be shaken out, poured out, rubbed in, mixed in, come into close contact to have any affect.


LLoyd Jones tells us, "Christians, by being Christians, influence society almost automatically." Indeed, you can make a difference in this world by just being who you are. Just be salt. Act like a Christian. Conduct yourself as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.” 


I see two key thoughts for us here. As Christians, if we are to have influence in our society, then we must act and conduct our lives different from the world. Can I say, “We must be like Jesus in the world.”


Our discussion will focus on two thoughts. First looking to understand salt in the natural and then looking to see if there is a spiritual application that can be applied to our lives from this.


It would help to have a basic understanding of salt. Where did it come from and how was it used.


There is a vast supply found in and around the Dead Sea. It was felt that the salt content was 33% here. During storms water would be washed in to pools, ponds and ditches. As the water evaporates, with the help of the sun and wind, a course – grained salt is left behind. This salt could then be gathered. It is also found at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Here one will find areas composed mostly of  “rock salt.” 


Salt served a wide array of purposes in the ancient world. Salt was used to make something taste good, taste better. Without adding salt, the food was not palatable. Can we say you probably wouldn’t want to eat it? In the ancient East, families used salt to prevent meat from spoiling, by packing it in salt. The salt would slow down the process of spoiling. Used as accompaniment to the various offerings by sprinkling salt over the sacrifices. To eat salt with one is to partake of his hospitality. It was used as an antiseptic. Covenants were generally confirmed by sacrificial meals and salt was always present. Salt is emblematic of loyalty and friendship. For some countries the vast salt deposits provided a source of revenue. 


Looking back at verse 13 for today, my questions are:  “Can salt loose its saltiness?” If yes, “what causes salt then to loose its saltiness?” Take a moment for yourself and ponder this question.  Hear anything from the Holy Spirit?


I have two thoughts in regards to this. From what I have read, salt by itself, does not change. The affects of salt, the influence that salt has in the natural, however can be changed when exposed to outside influences. Here are two ways that his may happen.


1.    Diluted

2.    Compromised


Natural:


Diluted: Think of an 8 oz glass of water. Add a teaspoon full of salt and you are sure to taste the saltiness. Now take that same teaspoonful of salt and add it to 5 gallons of water. Salt is present in the water but it has lost its saltiness, no salt taste. It has been diluted with such a large volume of water. 


Compromised / Polluted:  Thinking back in days of Jesus, the process in how salt was gathered and for some, salt was a source of revenue for a country to sell. It is here that I found something interesting in how salt can become compromised / polluted. It was mentioned in one country where salt was a source of revenue they restricted, prohibited the gathering of salt by individuals.  Understanding that this would take a bite out of their source of revenue. To discourage this the rulers would send out men to find these pits, ponds and pollute the salt that was being gathered. This would render the salt useless for human use. It was not mentioned what was used or how the salt was compromised or polluted. 


As I had mentioned earlier, I may not have all the understanding here in regards to this verse, but with what I have gathered so far, I sense there is enough for me to ask the next questions, “Is there a spiritual application for me to consider?”  “How does this look, apply to my own life?” 


Leads me to the deeper questions,  “am I acting, conducting myself like salt in the “world” around me, especially with those that I have close contact with?”  “With those that I rub elbows with daily?” Remember LLoyd Jones comment earlier. 


"Christians, by being Christians, influence society almost automatically." Indeed, you can make a difference in this world by just being who you are. Just be salt. Act like a Christian. Conduct yourself as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.” 


Is there a chance that I have lost my saltiness? Lost my influence to make a difference, change the world around me?  Have I made any compromises that have affected my influence in the world? Some hard questions to ponder!


Are you willing to ask, these tough question with me? Willing to ask Jesus, show me where I have made any compromises in my life in regards to your holy scriptures?  With this, have I lost (diluted) my influence (saltiness) in the world around me?  


Pastor Jeff

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