Imagine you’re sitting around the dinner table with your family. Little Bobby, trying to be like his Daddy he has heard so many times says, “please pass the sugar”, in his most refined voice. Oops! Bobby has made a mistake and confused the sugar with the salt. It was salt his Daddy always asks for. I think the same thing has happened to many Christians. What do I mean? What is the difference between sugar and salt?
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Jesus did not call us sugar, but many Christians today want to be sugar to other people, not salt. Sugar is sweet, it tastes good, and it makes us feel good. This is a popular approach to evangelism today. There is a belief, or at the very least, a practice of “let’s make them feel so good about themselves they will want Jesus”. When you say it like that, it doesn’t even make sense.
1 John 1:8-9 says “8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If confession of sin leads to salvation in Christ, how does making someone feel good about themselves ever lead to salvation? In fact, exalting the person and making them feel good about themselves will often lead them away from salvation.
While sugar can make people feel good and can lead to a short-term burst of energy and good feelings, the crash from sugar can leave one feeling lethargic, irritable, and unmotivated. While too much of anything can be dangerous (and thus analogies are never 100% perfect but are to illustrate), salt has incredible, beneficial properties that relate spiritually. When examining these benefits, remember that God’s Word is our food, our daily bread.
- Heal wounds (it stings at first, but it is healing)
- It enhances flavor
- Aids digestion
- Reduces stress hormones
- Helps to absorb water
- kills bacteria (whereas sugar will feed bacteria)
- it is a preservative
“Most salt in the ancient world derived from salt marshes or the like, rather than by evaporation of salt water, and therefore contained many impurities. The actual salt, being more soluble than the impurities, could be leached out, leaving a residue so diluted it was of little worth. In modern Israel savorless salt is still said to be scattered on the soil of flat roofs. This helps harden the soil and prevent leaks; and since the roofs serve as play grounds and places for public gathering, the salt is still being trodden underfoot.” (Knowing Our God, Exegetical Theology, Book 5, Kurt Jurgensmeier, p. 55).
It may not be popular to be salty; the world would certainly rather us be sugar.
Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God did not say that His Word was like a feather or a warm, fluffy blanket. Rather, it is a sword. A sword, when used properly, causes a wound and it causes pain. But if we are salt, salt can heal the wound even though it stings. Culture tells us just to be honey-dripping sweet and never say anything offensive, but Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). The truth often hurts, but it was truth I did not want to hear that set me free. We don’t want to use the Word as a battering ram, but it is a weapon.
Consider Jesus’s parable about the soils. If you have hard, rocky ground that the seed of the Word cannot penetrate deeply enough to form good, stable roots, what do you need? You need a sharp instrument to penetrate the soil and till it up. If the soil was your flesh, it would be extremely painful. But it is necessary in order for the Word to penetrate. On the other hand, if we dilute the gospel and try not to be offensive, we become watered-down and thus savorless. In the quote above, the author stated that in modern Israel savorless salt is used to harden the soil. Savorless salt does the opposite of what we want to do to soil. Share the truth in love. If Jesus is THE TRUTH and He is the very embodiment of love, then love and truth are inseparable.