ODJ: Salt for the Soil

May 10, 2018 

READ: Matthew 5:13-14 

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless (v.13).

Salt. It’s one of the world’s most valuable minerals and has helped advance modern civilisation. Its preservative capabilities helped the ancient world prevent starvation by safely increasing the shelf life of meats and vegetables. Not surprisingly, the mining and trading of salt, along with transporting cured foods over long distances, became big business.

So it’s hardly surprising that Jesus would use something as vital as salt to illustrate the meaningful impact He called believers to make in advancing God’s kingdom: “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

But how He called us to make such an impact depends on His meaning of salt. Was Jesus referring to a modern form of salt that resides on the average dinner table to season our food? Or was He referring to the cruder forms of salt that people in His day used to fertilise the soil?

Many, including myself, believe the evidence points to the latter, leaving some to interpret Jesus as saying, “You are (like) the salt for the soil, a stimulant for growth.”

Understanding salt as a fertiliser helps to explain why Jesus went on to say, “But if the salt has lost its saltiness . . . it is no longer good for anything” (v.13 niv). Author Anthony Bradley argues, “When Jesus talked to his followers about losing their saltiness, he was talking about losing their fertilising properties, their ability to bring about life and growth.”

How can we be like the salt Jesus spoke of? By going into those desolate places in the world where the new life of God’s kingdom is nonexistent or struggling to grow and flourish. By God’s power, we can promote the life-enhancing values of the kingdom in the people, places and causes that grip our hearts the most.

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Job 38:1-41

Read Romans 1:16 and consider the power of the good news found in Jesus—the news we’re called to share with others. 
Where can you have a salt-like impact on the world? What are the barren places that God is calling you to enrich with the new life of His kingdom?