Very often when we hear about Christians being the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) we are told it is preservation, flavor, and possibly healing since salt can function in these ways. While indeed Christians affect society through these means, this explanation falls short of what the text really says and it causes us to lose the fundamental truth of what it means to be salt.

Notice Jesus did not say that we are to “function” like salt but that we “are” the salt. In the context of the beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus outlines the characteristics and virtues of what it means to be a Christian and stresses the critical importance of not only possessing these qualities but continually manifesting them. In other words, it is those who possess and practice these attributes are the ones who are truly the salt of the earth.

But Jesus also warns that the salt can lose its savor which, as a consequence, makes the salt “saltless” and thus, it is good for nothing but to be thrown under the feet of men. In those days this is exactly what was done to salt that lost its savor. They would use it to pave walkways.

If a believer fails to practice the beatitudes as outlined by Jesus, then he has lost his savor. These beatitudes are to characterize the Christian and become the kingdom way of life that he faithfully demonstrates to the world. The metaphor of salt can only have meaning when we embrace and diligently live out these qualities and show the world who Jesus Christ truly is. Don’t stop being salt!

B. M. Seenath