Matthew 5:13,16 | Romans 1:28-29, 8:20-21 | Colossians 4:6

Tastes great, less spoiling.

Today it is no big deal, but in ancient times, salt was a valuable resource. Nowadays there is a salt shaker on every table, and a carton of salt in every cabinet. It is easy to get, and people just use a sprinkle of it at a time. Can you remember ever running out of salt?

However, when Jesus walked the earth, salt was harder to come by and people used a lot of it. In those days people did not have refrigerators to keep their food from spoiling. If they wanted to save food for later, they packed it in salt or soaked it in salt water. Salt was also used as an antiseptic for wounds, for removing odors, and a number of other purposes.

“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.”

Matthew 5:13 NLT

Jesus called his followers “the salt of the earth.” What does that mean? Does he mean they add flavor, or that they keep other stuff from spoiling? Maybe he meant both, and more.

It’s no secret that the world is getting rotten at a terrific rate. Paul comments on why in his letter to the Roman believers.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.

Romans 1:28-29a NLT

The world is spoiling because people don’t think knowing God is worthwhile. By ignoring him, the world sinks deeper and deeper into wickedness, corruption…and a general state of just being messed up! It’s rotting. 

When you acknowledge God and give glory to him by trusting and following Jesus, you–like a grain of salt–work against that decay.

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Romans 8:20-21 NLT

As a follower of Christ, your faithful works add some salty flavor to a world whose taste profile has gotten…kind of dark!

“…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5:16b NLT

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

Colossians 4:6 NIV

Finally, when Jesus said that you–as his follower–are “the salt of the earth”, he meant you are valuable. In those days, salt was so highly valued that it was used as currency. Workers were paid in salt, and there are even accounts of it being traded evenly with gold!

Dear follower of Jesus, God loves you and values you. May he use your faith to add flavor to and preserve this decaying world.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • In your own words, how are we–as Christ’s followers–the salt of the earth? 
  • What do you think Jesus meant about salt losing its flavor in Matthew 5:13? Is that even possible?

Application: Salt as a Preservative

Take a deep dive into a salty subject!

Earlier, we made the point that the world is decaying, sinking deeper into depravity as it moves further and further from the knowledge of God. Your job is to unpack that concept. 

Read Romans 1:18-32 and answer the following questions.

  1. Who is God’s anger against? (verse 18)
  2. What happened to the minds of these subjects of God’s anger, and why? (verses 20-21)
  3. What was God’s response to people worshiping idols instead of him? (verse 25-27)
  4. Are these people innocent, or do they deserve punishment? (verse 32)
  5. Do they know they are acting wrongly? (verse 32)

Read Romans 2:1-4 and answer these questions.

  1. Is it okay to condemn the wicked people Paul spoke of in the first chapter of Romans? (verse 1)
  2. What does Paul say is God’s intent when offering grace toward you? (verse 4)