Amy Potter

Ah! I love the fresh salty air of the beach. I like salt, too—salty chips, salty appetizers.

Isn’t it interesting that while it’s important not to consume too much salt, it is something we need to survive? According to BBC’s Science Focus, salt makes up about .4% of the human body’s weight, which is close to what is found in seawater. Since we lose salt when we sweat, it needs to be in our diets to be replaced. The mineral helps our organs, nerves and muscles function properly.

Salt is precious to the human body.

A few months ago, I enjoyed a salty breeze and some quiet time with the Lord on a beach vacation. While I took in that wonderful sea and sand scent, I couldn’t help but think of the significance of salt.

The Bible makes a lot of references to salt. There was the time that Jesus turned water into potato chips. Just kidding!

Seriously, there are more than 40 references to salt in the Bible. In Leviticus, salt is added to grain offerings. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt in Genesis 19:26. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Salt is compared to our speech in Colossians 4.

In ancient times, salt was used as a seasoning, preservative, disinfectant, an agent in ceremonial offerings and as a unit of exchange.

Leviticus 2:13 says, “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.”

It’s easy for us to be puzzled by this, yet it was the salt that made the offering pure. God wants every sacrifice we make to Him to be pure.

The word salt comes from the Latin word “sal.” Know any other English words that start with “sal”? How about “salary”? These words have a close relation for good reason. Salt was once very valuable.

Though it was expensive, adding salt to a sacrifice added to its purity and worth. A sacrifice should cost us something, otherwise it’s not really a sacrifice, is it?

Salt has been used as a preservative since ancient times. Jesus certainly didn’t have a refrigerator, so you can see the importance of using salt to keep things preserved.

Additionally, in ancient times, salt bonded friends. Tradition was that once you ate a man’s salt, you were friends for life. Salt is a reminder of the deep relationship God wants with us.

Perhaps you are more familiar with the salt reference in Matthew 5:13: “‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.’”

What does Jesus mean when he says His followers are “the salt of the earth”?

First, He’s saying you are of great value.

And if salt is a preservative and we are salt, we are the preserving influence in this crazy world. Without salt, the world would be full of spoil.

But salt can lose its flavor, and in Jesus’ time, it would have been thrown out. It was worth nothing at that point.

This is a warning to us. We are on a “salty” mission—to be a preservative of life in a world of death and decay—but if we lose sight of the mission, we are of no use to God’s Kingdom.

The first time I heard the term “be salty,” I was on vacation and struck up a conversation with a teacher who was getting ready to start teaching at an inner-city school. She was excited but said she warned the principal if she took the job she was “going to get salty on them.”

In other words, it was going to be no holding back: She planned to be the salt and the light, the hands and feet of Jesus, in this public school.

Since then, I’ve been trying to live a salty life. Sometimes I tell my kids on the way to school “be salty today!”

But what does that look like? It’s a note of encouragement, a smile, going out of your way to help a neighbor. It’s stopping to pray when you have a list of things to do. It’s fixing your eyes on Jesus and letting Him make you salty.

But when you think about salt, there’s one more thing to consider.

Salt makes you thirsty. Let’s go back to that wonderful seawater. It’s great until a big wave comes and you get a mouthful, right?

You see, it’s not really the salt that people crave.

Pastor and author John Piper said, “People don’t enjoy salt. They enjoy what is salted. We are the salt of the earth. We do not exist for ourselves.”

Jesus, on the other hand, refers to Himself as “living water,” which, when we drink deeply of His grace, makes us never thirst again.

When the world looks dark and uncertainty is overwhelming, remember you are “the salt of the earth.”

Stay salty, that we may point others to the One who can satisfy our thirst.

Amy Potter is a member of Southeast Christian Church. She is a wife, mother, writer and prayer warrior, among other things.