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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Salt

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” -Matthew 5:13

Salt of the earth; when you think about it, that is such an odd phrase. Why would Jesus say such a thing? After all, salt does nothing good for terra firma that I know of. Ancient conquerors would often pour salt on the land of the cities they captured, and even plow the salt into the ground. (See Judges 9:45) It appears to have been a kind of curse to say that the conquered land would never produce or rise again. Clearly that is not what Jesus had in mind. “Salting the earth” and “salt of the earth” are not the same thing.

My commentaries and Bible Dictionaries shed little light on why Jesus chose to use this phrase in the Sermon on the Mount, but we can presume that the people who heard it would have understood. In that day before refrigeration, salt was used as a preserver and purifier of food, and we assume that this is the simile intended. Without salt, the fish or other meat bought fresh at the market in the morning would spoil very quickly in the middle-eastern heat, but salt would preserved it and made it safe to eat. In other words, used in this way, salt saved the day.

Interesting that we still use the phrase today, and when we do, it is in a very complimentary way. “They are good people, the salt of the earth,” we say. Salt of the earth is not generally a term applied to the influential and powerful, or the rich and famous. It is most often said about ordinary people who quietly go about caring for others. The phrase is not used to describe the dragons of business who amass great fortunes, although wealthy people often do great good with their money; witness Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet who have given billions to save and improve lives. No, when we use that phrase, we generally mean that the people being spoken of are gentle, humble folk who wouldn’t knowingly hurt anyone else.

The salt of the earth are the kind of people who hear you are sick and bring over a casserole to express their caring and concern. They quietly volunteer at the local hospital or homeless shelter. They give money to causes, whether Alzheimer’s research or animal welfare. They can often be found driving people to the cancer clinic, or visiting the lonely. They are the first to bring canned goods to church when the call goes out that the local food bank is running low. These are people who care.

Thank God for the “Salt of the Earth!” It is people like these who still save the world and make it a safe and enjoyable place to live. According to Matthew, it is who we are called to be.

Posted by Carman

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