“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 by men.” Matthew 5:13 NIV
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:34-35 NIV
Let us set the stage a little bit. These verses are found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and at a time of teaching to a crowd in Luke. The Sermon on the Mount most likely took place somewhere near the Sea of Galilee.
Both the disciples and the crowds understood the importance and value of salt in their society. Salt was used as wages for Roman soldiers – the word salary comes from the word salt. Salt was used to preserve fish and meat so it would not spoil, and so it could be preserved and eaten at a future time. In Jesus’ day, salt was valuable, not available on every street corner, and was used as a preservative for food. This use of salt puts a different light on these verses written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago to the church at Colossae.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
What might Paul be asking the church to preserve? How are we to act as preservatives in our world today? Alex has been teaching us that we should want South Fellowship to be the kind of community that would be missed by our city if we were not here. How is our service to the neighborhood, to the community we serve, valuable?
Colossians 4:5-6 comes immediately after Colossians 3:1-17 in which Paul gave some specific instructions on how we as Christians ought to live, love, and serve each other – in light of our salvation and our new life in Christ. Chapter 3 of Colossians puts meat on the bones of exactly how we can be salt and light in our community. Read Colossians 3; take note of how we are not supposed to act, and what we are not to say to one another. Notice what we are to say and do as we serve one another in the body of Christ and in the community at large. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you to choose one thing from these verses to focus on. Make an effort to stop doing something in these lists – that we are to put to death, and put effort into clothing yourself with a contrasting trait Paul exhorts us to embody and live out daily.