Thirdly, we clean and disinfect.
This part of the job is not as much fun. Have you ever done what I do – auto-condimentised a meal, only to find that the chef has a similar palate to yours and there’s already too much salt? It tastes terrible. It stings. If you clean a wound, it can really burn when you add salt. It’s necessary, but you have to grit your teeth and try not to scream.
Ancient cultures used salt to disinfect the umbilical cord of a new born baby, and even today salt is often used for cleaning applications. But it needs to be done with care and gentleness. We need, once again, to speak with grace, speak the truth in love, and study to answer. Even if you know the answer, even if you’re right, even if it’s urgent, is it kind? Will it win souls, or turn away dear friends? Gentleness, patience and love are the keys to speech that is full of grace, seasoned with salt (not drowning in it!).
Staying the course.
The second part of Matthew 5:13 offers a sombre warning: : 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.”
It is possible to lose your savour. The cares and trials of this world weigh us down. Many of think, when we give our lives to our Lord, that it’s plain sailing from here on in. For some unknown reason, in no way based in a literal understanding of scripture, we imagine that God will skip along before us, sweeping our troubles away with His cosmic broom. He doesn’t. Trials come (as the Bible warns us they will, as they do to everyone), and in our bewilderment we lose our faith. Maybe not completely, but it begins to be whittled away. Not only did the sovereign God not prevent the tragedy w may be facing, He seems to be silent too. Has He abandoned us?
Never. His faithful Word assures us of His constant, loving presence in Hebrews 13:5, where He says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Again He talks about our conversation: what we say, how we live. He urges us to be content and at peace, knowing our sovereign Lord is always there for us. When we don’t cling to this promise, when we lose faith and hope in the future, we become bland and tasteless. We offer no life to those we meet. We bring no joy.
What good are we then? Jesus tells us in Matthew that our only use is to firm the path of those who come behind us. To be trampled underfoot. The key is to remember that our feelings are secondary to the facts on which we base our faith.
What facts are these?
- Jesus is the Son of God, fully God and fully man.
- He LOVES us.
- Because we are drowning in the terrifying, turbulent seas of sin, He gave everything, He sacrificed His life for us.
- He rose again from the dead to give us the victory over death.
- He never leaves us, and our simple act of belief in this truth guarantees us eternity with our Saviour.