January 29

Text: Matthew 5:13

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (NASB)

Who ever heard of tasteless salt or spoiled salt?  Lumpy salt—yes.  Tasteless salt—no.  After all, sodium chloride is sodium chloride.  It may be wet salt or salt clumps, but it is still salt that tastes like salt and acts like salt.  Regardless of appearance, salt is salt!  Never did mother say, “This box of salt has spoiled.  It is no longer salt.  I will throw this old box of non-salt out in the yard and buy a new, unspoiled box.”

If salt cannot become spoiled and tasteless, what was Jesus saying?  First, he was speaking of a common situation 2000 years ago.  Second, a government taxes a product everybody uses and needs to acquire the most revenue possible.  Third, each time the product is taxed, the seller’s profit is decreased.  Fourth, then, a typical way to regain profit was to dilute the product with a cheap “look alike.”

Typically, when a salt merchant was taxed on his salt at the border, he would regain his loss by adding a cheap “look alike” to his salt.  If this happened enough, the result was a tasteless salt that neither added flavor nor preserved fresh meat (such as fish).  The sodium chloride had not spoiled!  It just was too diluted to function constructively.

However, even a diluted salt mixture was destructive to vegetation.  Small amounts of salt kill plants.  So, what did one do with the potentially harmful mixture?  It was scattered in the road where no one wanted any plant to grow.

They were not to become so diluted by evil influences that they could do no good but only harm.

Suggestion for reflection: When am I a more destructive influence for Jesus than a helpful influence?  (Read Galatians 5:16-24.)

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