Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalms 34:8 ESV)
I’m a good southern boy. I grew up eating fried chicken, corn on the cob and other marvelous dishes which I can no longer enjoy. Occasionally, on furlough, I’ll indulge my senses with a good southern meal. I then have to repent and go back on a strict diet to recover. But, some things in life are worth the consequences.
A major ingredient in southern cooking, and other regional favorites, is salt. Small white grains of natural preservative and flavor enhancements are added throughout the preparation of a meal. If you do a quick query on the Internet it will reveal that salt is a big subject with millions of hits.
Historically salt was used for seasoning, a preservative and money. If your land contained a large salt deposit you were rich! The Salt Institute, yes there is such an organization, provides reams of information on the history and usefulness of salt.
In Salzburg, Austria, I visited a large salt mine with my boys, James and Evan. Donning white coveralls we boarded a special train that took us deep into the mountain side. It was like sitting on an overgrown sausage rumbling down railroad tracks. We walked through tunnel after tunnel. The lights came on as we entered a section and went off behind us. When we went down to lower levels we used the wooden slides enjoyed by miners. We picked up some pretty good speed sliding deeper into the mountain.
It was the seemingly endless tunnels which fascinated us. When the lights went off, which they did after a warning, for a demonstration, we saw nothing. Not even a faint outline was visible in the pitch black. We could touch our faces and still not see our hands. What is amazing is that people have spent their entire lives in and around these tunnels. For hundreds of years society was built around these mines as a source of personal and commercial salt extraction and thus wealth.
All I wanted to do was get out of the tunnels. I couldn’t imagine the constant darkness and damp cold the workers must have endured. Working in a small space illuminated by a single oil lamp had to be difficult. All of this, just to add a little spice to someone’s life.
Salt also plays an important function in the Middle East. When two people make a compact by eating salt together they are bound for life. Throughout the world salt is used for medicinal purposes as well. In scripture we see babies bathed in salt (Ezekiel 16:4). The pools of Jericho were cleansed by salt (2 Kings 2:20). Even a wayward wife was turned into salt (Genesis 19:26).
Scripture tells us we are the salt of the earth. Jesus said, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt seasoning that brings out the God flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (Matthew 5:13 MSG) When I remember my mother telling me, “It only takes a pinch.” She was proclaiming a culinary and spiritual application.
A pinch of salt, while cooking, works its way through the dish enhancing the flavor. It’s important to understand how much salt is in a pinch. It’s a very precise cooking measurement which is learned by intuition and experience. I learned about cooking and salt from my mother, which is probably why I’m not a good cook.
My mother would scoop up three fingers worth of salt and poise her hand over the dish. Then she would wiggle her fingers against one another as the grains of salt descended to the food until just the right amount was distributed. The rest was tossed away. Too little and the flavor would be bland. Too much and the dish would be too salty and totally ruined.
Watching people eat, and their use of salt, can be interesting. Some never use salt. Some douse their entire meal in salt before they even taste the food. Others apply so much salt that it is all they can taste. Each person has their own habits and ability to consume quantities of salt.
As a pinch of physical salt seasons a meal; a pinch of spiritual salt, in the world, works through lives pointing people to the Savior. Evangelism is like pinching salt into the world. Think about the Salt Shaker Christian’s impact on those around them.
There are the salt pinchers. They hold the message of salvation between their fingers and carefully apply it, grain by grain, until the right amount makes a person’s heart open to God. Next there are the salt misers. These Christians keep their faith so close at hand it never falls from their fingers on the world around them. Their salt bottle stays closed and they are glad to know they have a plentiful supply, never realizing that it’s wasted. Then there are those at the other extreme in the salt sprayers. These over zealous believers toss about their beliefs at, and on, everything around them. Although it may sound spiritual and good; often it smothers the other person and drives them away with a bad taste in their mouth.
The salt of the Gospel message needs to be pinched out, grain by grain, or teaspoon by teaspoon to meet the situation at hand. It shouldn’t be kept in the jar, or under a bushel, (that sounds like a good parable), because then it’s useless to anyone other than the one who owns it. It shouldn’t be dumped by the bucketful either, that suffocates the person. Instead we need to look at each situation, each person, wiggle our fingers together and carefully distribute the right amount of spiritual salt.
I’m a missionary. I’m supposed to be distributing salt. But, how are my contents being distributed? As individuals how do you season the world around you? Are you a Pincher, or a Miser, or a Sprayer? Or, has your salt lost its flavor?
When salt is old and no longer salty it’s a problem. “For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:49 50 WEB)
Believers are grains of salt mined by the Lord to season the world with His love and grace. We are an offering (Ephesians 5:2) and offerings must have salt to be acceptable (Lev 2:13).
How salty are you today? Do you season the world with God’s presence in your life? When people meet you are they encouraged with the enhanced flavor of God in your life? Or, do they find you just as bland as the rest of the world?
Let us taste of the Lord and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8). Let us think first so our speech is seasoned with salt (Col 4:6), just the right amount. Let us season the world with God’s presence in our lives!