We’ve heard it said many times, reserved for those who seem to be the best among us. Most times it refers to those special individuals who just seem to be the ultimate givers, not just with money, but time as well. They’d just take the shirt off their own backs to help fill a need. The Salt of the Earth!
Dictionary.com defines “Salt of the Earth” as: Basic, fundamental goodness; the phrase can be used to describe any simple, good person: “I like Mary: she’s reliable, trustworthy, and straightforward; she’s the salt of the Earth.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers, who are mainly fishermen and other simple people, “Ye are the salt of the Earth.”
This is the general view of the words of Jesus, shared by religious and non-religious people, e.g. basic goodness. The idea is that being the Salt of the Earth is something towards our fellow man. There is certainly nothing wrong with being salt of the earth in this way. But, is this what Jesus was talking about? Is there more to it than this? Does being the “Salt” have to do with our relationship towards one another, or does it more accurately have to do with our relationship with God? Is the idea of being “tasteless” refer to what we are to fellow man? Or to God?
To begin a study on this subject, we need to turn to the Torah, where the Will of God is revealed to us, concerning ourselves. Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The Greatest Law, of which the entire Torah is built upon, is to love God with all of the heart, soul, and might! All other laws/commands, are based on this One Law. Keeping any other part of the Law of Moses, succeeds or fails on this one point alone. You can do anything, and everything, but if you do not, as the base for all you do, if you do not love God with all your heart, soul, might, you actually are not keeping anything. Because, all the Law is based on this One Law. God wants His people to love Him. All of His Laws are simply the means to bring us to the place of acknowledging our love for Him, and His love for us. If we do not love God, how then can we keep His Commandments, let alone be pleasing to Him? It is good to keep in mind this very fact, that all Jesus ever did, or said, was based on this One Law – Loving God.
This One Law within the person of the Messiah was the inspiration for the Apostle Paul, as he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13. He understood the basis for all Law/Word from God, as Love for God. Nothing will ever take the place of this.
Some have gone out into the world, forgetting the basis for all work done for God. I have talked with those who end up actually comparing their own righteousness to that of Gods. They see all the suffering, and chaos, in the world, and question/blame God for all the evil. They are those who forget what it’s all about. They take their eyes off of the One, and subsequently fall by the way. Many consider these to have been the “Salt of the Earth”. Perhaps the best known of these was Agnes Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun. Mother Teresa was, in the general sense, the definition of what it means to be “The Salt of the Earth”. And yet, as is evidenced in her many letters, she lost all belief in God. Her soul was tormented. It is the inevitable ending of a life dedicated to good works, based on the needs of man, and not that of love of God. She even won the Noble Peace Prize for her work. But in the end, she died in her misery and loss.
Here is an excerpt to one of her many letters:
“I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.
So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
Our work must be based solely on our personal love of our Father in Heaven. We may have other motivation, such as knowing a great desire to help a starving child. We may have motivation to help a young person who is ruining their life with drugs. There are numerous reasons to feel concern for this world bound up in sin. And yet, no matter how hard someone tries to meet the need, the needs of a sinful world continue to grow exponentially. You can save a child from starvation, and dozens still die all around you. Poverty may eat away at a family like a cancer, and you feel compelled to give to a poor family. Yet, for each family delivered, a dozen more take its place. It is easy to see why so many lose their faith; if what they see is the condition of a suffering humanity, and fail to see the Love of God. We can get so focused on the immediate circumstances, we forget the promises. When we expect the promises, and become disappointed, and discouraged, we again lose sight of loving God. The first thing, the most important thing, is to
“love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
We will see perfectly, within this portion of scripture we are looking at (more in part two), just what our Father in Heaven has in store for those who love Him. In spite of the circumstances we are in, it is what we are towards God that actually makes all the difference. What we are towards God not only comes with great blessing, but also, provides a way back to being savoury salt, well pleasing to God.
The Apostle Paul:
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Corinthians 13 NAS)
Many have assumed the Apostle Paul refers to love of man, but this is not the case. Love of man does not lead to God. Love of man cannot bring deliverance for him. He speaks as Messiah speaks, as Torah speaks. He was writing about The Love of God. Love is the basis of the Law. Loving man is absolutely needful, but to get our focus on man, and not God, is literally failing to keep the Law of God.
In Matthew 22:34-40, we have an account of a discourse between the Pharisees and Jesus. Jesus had previously set a group of Sadducees straight on their error in interpreting the Law for themselves, “34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”37 And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Many people easily remember the later part of this answer, that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. It is most often quoted by those who want people to accept them, no matter what they may be doing. We are always reminded to love people, “as God does”, etc. You can hardly even mention the fact of Homosexuality being a sin, without someone accusing you of not loving, but rather, you are now a hater!
Yet, this type of love, that one would be all accepting of whatever lifestyle someone may choose as what love is, isn’t what the Torah says, as commanded by God.
God commands that we not only love Him with all of our being, but also, or as an active part of our love for Him, we are to teach His commandments:
6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Did you know that teaching your children to love God, is an act of love? When you instruct your son, or daughter, to keep the Law of God in their hearts, you are loving them in the way God says to love them. Someone may say they love their children by putting them in all sorts of sports activities, or whatever else is available for young people to spend their youth in. A parent may call this love, and even though the parent may love their child, in truth, this isn’t the way God tells us to love them.
The Education of our young people has been taken over, for the most part, at least in the secular schools, by educators who simply do not care if you want your child to know the God of Israel. The educational system in America has been working very hard to actually remove all semblance of God, or the Bible, or prayer for that matter, from the school system. What would the motivation be for doing this? Love?
How can Jesus compare the love of God, with love of our neighbour? He even says it is likened to it. It is because, our love for our fellow man, is all about our love for God. It is loving God by sharing Him when we talk, when we sit in our house, or our neighbours house, when we walk by the way, and when we lie down and rise up. This is what love of God looks like, and it is what it tastes like. We share His love by living according to His commandments. His commandment is, to love Him with our whole being.
The road to becoming tasteless has to do with our love of God. Do we love Him? Without love, we are nothing. For, everything in the Kingdom of Heaven is based on this love.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
The tastiness of salt, in this context, is love of God. It is the greatest of commandments, according to the written Torah, and the Living Torah.
In the Revelation 2, Jesus again speaks of this greatest of commandments.
Revelation 2:4 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.…”
When Jesus asks, “how can it be made salty again?” In Matthew 5, He wasn’t saying that it’s impossible. This is something we should already know, having the answer going all the way back to the Torah. The answer is foundational to our faith! We have no faith without this!
In Revelation 3: 14-22, is the message to the church in Laodicea. This message is written to a people who had become “tasteless”. Here the analogy is “lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” The answer for the Laodiceans is the same for us today, which is repentance. Repentance from a false love, even a counterfeit love, and begin to love God. We are the “Salt of the Earth”, may we truly be pleasing to Holy God. He loved us first, so that we could know His Love.
Part Two of this study will go into what is commonly referred to as the Beatitudes, the first 12 verses in this chapter. The “Beatitudes” are all about our First Love. They are not only a description of Jesus Himself, as the exact representation of the Father, they also include the promises that we hold on to. In the face of suffering humanity, we hold on to His promises. In the face of a sinful, and corrupt world, and a carnal religious majority, we hold on to His promises, by keeping His commandment, that we are to love Him, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our might! These first 12 verses have everything to do with love of God, and being the Salt of the Earth!