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Pass the Salt!

Pass the Salt!

Ever since I can remember, I have loved salt. I prefer salty foods to sweets. In the opinion of most people, I use too much salt, but food is sure bland without it. If you eat with me, I will probably say, “Please, pass the salt.”

We just completed studying the Beatitudes that Jesus gave at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Right after the Beatitudes, Jesus told His disciples 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 by men.” What did Jesus mean by this metaphor? Let’s consider what salt does and relate it to ourselves.

SEASONS: Salt changes things; a little salt can flavor a big pot of beans. However, salt must be in contact with the food to affect its taste. In the same way salt affects our food, God wants us to influence the whole earth for Him. Therefore, we must mingle with people that are lost. We are not to withdraw from society. We are not of the world, but we live in the world. Our saltiness can flavor a school, workplace, or a whole community.

We affect the lost, not by becoming like them, but by showing the love of Jesus. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, love will flow out of us to others. It is the Holy Spirit, and Him only, that makes us the salt of the earth. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck." He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" She said, "You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."

While Peppermint Patty was blaming Charlie Brown instead of taking responsibility for her own actions, the point is this: We should be a good influence on our friends.

Fifty years ago the Church had a strong influence on society. Most went to church somewhere, at least part-time. People were ashamed if anyone found out they were sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Today people are ashamed to admit they're virgins. Adultery was not acceptable, and neither was using drugs, heavy drinking, cheating on your taxes, pornography, abortion, homosexuality, lying, or stealing.

But there is a horrifying new trend today. Research shows that the average Christian in the average church today is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. The fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live, is missing. Something is horribly wrong. We have grieved the Holy Spirit and He has departed from many believers and congregations.

If we Christians lose the qualities of Christlikeness that make us distinct and become like the society around us, we no longer have a positive impact. We have lost our saltiness and become worthless to God. As a result, society just ignores us like the sand under their feet.

Therefore, Christians have an influence, for good or for bad. If we're “salty”, that is full of the Holy Spirit, the way we live and the things we say should season the lives of those in which we are in contact. With the Holy Spirit in us, we are the salt of the earth.

HEALS: Salt has healing properties. When I was 13, I fell off a horse and sustained a head injury that required stitches. I was supposed to go with my grandparents to the Gulf of Mexico and I wanted to swim in the Gulf. My mother was concerned about my wound becoming infected. The doctor said swimming in saltwater was the best thing I could do. The salt water will draw out infection, cleanse the wound, and help it heal. Some of you gargle with salt water when your throat is sore, or sit in a hot bath sprinkled with Epsom salts for aches and pains.

On the other hand, salt can sting. However, pain is often part of the healing process. In order to be healed, a sin-sick person must experience the sting of truth. Someone once said, "The truth will set you free—but first, it will make you miserable!" I'm sure we can all testify to the pain of realizing our own sins. Sometimes we feel worse before we feel better. But we will be healed, as we walk in repentance and obedience to God.

Salt can also revive those who've fainted from their stressful journey in life. We need to pass some smelling salts under their nose, which is the Word of God. God wants us to wake up those lost in sin and revive His wounded warriors by speaking the truth in love, in a way that brings healing and hope.

PURIFIES: Salt is a purifying agent. God told Elisha to take a bowl of salt to a poisoned spring of water and throw some in. 2 Kings 2:19-22 The men of the city said to Elisha, "Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive."  "Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.  Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.'"  And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.

When God used salt to purify the waters of Jericho it was a miracle - just like when He uses us. Just as Elisha didn't throw his bowl into the poisoned waters, we obviously can't throw church buildings at the world's problems. We all know it's not the buildings, but the believer who is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Beautiful churches are fine, but we are the salt of the earth.

God could have told Elisha to walk around town throwing salt down everyone's well, but He sent him to the root of the problem - the poisoned spring. God wants to send us to the root of many problems and use us to purify the poisoned areas of society.

For years, the enemy has had a very simple and effective strategy. He's told Christians, "You can do anything you want, as long as you stay in the church." That conveniently leaves the rest of the world to him.

May I suggest that the reason we have so many problems in critical areas of society is because Christians have abandoned them and lost direct contact. We've retreated in fear, instead of obeying God and doing our part to purify. When God calls us anywhere, we must operate with integrity. We're salt not only because we're bearers of truth, but because of the godly influence of our conduct and character.

PRESERVES: Before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. It was rubbed into meat to keep it from spoiling or being corrupted with bacteria. Our Christian influence works in a similar way by restraining the corruption of the world - which if left unchecked, multiplies as quickly as bacteria on a hunk of meat.

The following are some critical areas of society in advanced stages of decay:  Education, Business, Government, Arts and Media, Science, and the Family. These areas play a major part in influencing the thoughts and attitudes of society - which is exactly why the devil wants them for himself. The enemy, and those playing into his hands, have made some of us afraid to serve God in some of these areas - fearing that if we have anything to do with them, we'll almost automatically fall prey to persecution or temptation.

Even being in Christian service, or the ministry, is no guarantee against persecution or falling into sin. The only thing keeping us is our relationship with God.

1 Cor. 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Being full of the Holy Spirit, and seeking Him continually will give us the strength to obey Him during persecution and to flee temptation by the way of escape He always provides.

By His grace, we must overcome our fears. The world around us is in desperate need because their answers aren't working. But God has an answer for every possible situation. And His answers work! Admittedly, there are people whose hearts are so hard they'd reject anything having to do with godly principles. However, many will respond to God's wisdom when it's presented in a way they can receive and observe. We must view ourselves as representatives of the Lord wherever we are.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Ambassadors are sent to foreign nations and have the authority to represent the interests of their government, or king, to that foreign land. They do not change citizenship while they're there, but remain citizens of the nation that sent them. Their presence in that country creates a greater understanding between the two nations.

As we represent God's principles and character in all areas of society, we need to stay loyal to the One who sent us. If we don't, we lose our authority and our “saltiness”. We need to stay salty for Jesus as we attempt to influence a world that's decaying in sin. If we don't salt the world, it will desalt us, and the enemy will continue to gain ground in dangerous proportions!

We're salt of the earth when we take a stand by the power of the Holy Spirit for what's right. We're often in situations that test our saltiness. Salty Christians won't compromise under pressure. They won't be silent when God wants them to speak, or take actions they know are contrary to His principles. They speak the truth in love and bless those who persecute them.

On the other hand, salt-less “Christians” lack the power of the Holy Spirit and are easy prey for the enemy. They not only give the enemy access to their own lives, but also to the areas of influence God gave to them to be faithful stewards. This means their families, jobs, schools, and communities are left unprotected.

For salt-less Christians, Jesus' words are very severe, “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 by men.”

If we're meant to salt the world, yet we ourselves need to be salted, is there any hope? If you've lost your saltiness, it's a very serious thing to be failing in your mission for God. If you are failing, carefully examine your relationship with the Lord and see where you're falling short - then repent - take the steps necessary to renew an intimate relationship with Jesus again.

If you've grieved the Holy Spirit, there's nothing to keep you from going to God in honesty, humility, and repentance. In fact, returning to the Source of our saltiness is our only hope. It's staying close to Jesus, especially in prayer and the Word, that keeps us salty, full of the Holy Spirit, and out from under the feet of men.

All around us things are decaying, from individual lives, to areas of society, to whole nations. Jesus wants to use us for His glory and for the good of the world. As we anxiously await His return, let's walk by His Spirit and conduct our lives in obedience to His Word.

CREATES THIRST: There is one more thing salt does. It makes people thirsty. The only thing that will quench this thirst is the Water of Life, Jesus Christ. Christians, like salt, should make people thirsty for Jesus. How do we do that? Let them know Jesus is Lord of your life. Pray and walk by the Holy Spirit in the reality of the Beatitudes.

1. Make other people feel important. Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Poor in spirit” is humility. It is dependence on God. As a result, we shouldn’t be so self-absorbed that we don’t have time for anyone else.

2. Share the hurts of others. Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

We are to mourn over our own sin and the sin of others. Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Think back over your life. Who are the people who mean the most to you? My guess is they are the people who grieved with you and comforted you when you hurt or were suffering from the consequences of sin.

3. Have a mild disposition. Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

People prefer to follow those who accept them, not those who intimidate them.

4. Live a consistent life. Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

A perfect life is unattainable for all but Jesus. A consistent life, on the other hand, is an attainable goal. That’s why the analogy of hunger and thirst is so fitting. The sincere follower of Christ has a DESIRE to do what is right, they want to obey God. They also want more of Jesus, who is their righteousness. This desire, accompanied by a consistent life, affects other people without preaching a word.

5. Have a forgiving spirit. Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

If we are a grudge-bearer, forget about having very much influence on leading others to Jesus. We certainly become the "salt that lost its saltiness" when we fail to forgive others.

6. Keep your heart pure. Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

This is the part of us nobody sees but God. However, the results of a pure heart ARE VISIBLE. Whatever is in our heart, comes out of our mouth and determines our actions.

Phony motives will eventually give us away. Without a pure heart, we begin to manipulate people instead of loving them. The harboring of "secret sins" like jealousy, lust, greed, bitterness, etc., causes us to treat others with selfishness and disrespect. In such a case, we have lost our “saltiness”.

7. Be easy to live with. Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

How do you relate to others? Do you treat them and speak to them with gentleness, kindness, patience, and love?

Col 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

8. Avoid having a martyr complex. Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus marks it as a sign of honor to be mistreated because you are His follower. He doesn’t teach us to be sorry for ourselves. He doesn’t teach us to complain.

9. Endure unfair treatment. Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

If you are willing to allow yourself to be mistreated and not retaliate, it will have a tremendous impact on your credibility as a follower of Christ. You will be acting like Jesus.

10. Be positive and excited! Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Our family and friends, who have not yet made a commitment to Christ, are not going to want to do so if we act like following Christ is a burden. Sure, we may pay a price to be a follower of Jesus. However, we need to be sure we don’t act like that’s a bad thing - because it isn’t! Any price we pay for following Christ is well worth it, because Christ is worth our all! A joyful and glad attitude will cause others to become thirsty for the Water of Life - Jesus.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Now look back over the list in your sermon notes. If that list doesn’t describe you, ask God to "please pass the salt". In other words, ask Him to fill you with Himself, the Holy Spirit, so you will have power and grace to be like Jesus, as the beatitudes describe.

If you are not yet a Christian but you are thirsty, come to Jesus, believing and confessing that He is the Son of God. Repent of your sin and die to yourself in water baptism. Jesus will give you a new life born of the Holy Spirit. He will quench your thirst and make you “salty”, giving you grace and power to be His witness and His ambassador.