Sunday, July 20, 2008

Slogans to Live By

“Add a little salt to your character.”

Scripture to read: Matthew 5:13

How can a well-known restaurant chain come up with such an applicable slogan to live by for the Christian? Scripture could not be clearer to you and me that, we are, drum roll please, the salt of the earth. Clearly the writer of this slogan knows that salt does do something. What he or she probably doesn’t know is that the only salt that will change any characteristic flaws in anyone is Jesus. So why does Jesus say we, followers of Christ, are the salt of the earth? And how can we, as believers, add a little salt to our character?

First, let’s start with this simple visual - a salt shaker. Nothing tastes better than to shake a little salt on our food and enjoy the enhanced flavor but if the salt shaker is empty, the flavor of the food is never changed. So it is for us. If we are the salt of the earth, we must be full enough to shake out something that will change the flavor of this world. Jesus said that if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It ends up being good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled on by men (Mt. 5:13). I think we may all be guilty at times, maybe a lot of times, of relying on our own moral goodness or character to be the salt to this world. It has recently been something heavy on my mind that some people are really just “good” by nature. All of us have natural abilities that can make a difference in the lives of others. That is why Chilis restaurant can say “add a little salt to your character.” To them, it all stems from the natural. For us, as Christ followers, we need to operate in the spirit led abilities that combine with our natural abilities to affect this world we live in. Our spiritual salt shakers are going to be empty if we do not fill them up with the Word of God. No question, the only chance we have of ever being truly effective in this world to anyone is through the Word of God living in us and through us. You can shake some natural “salt” on this world, but it will never change the flavor. Only the ever salty Word of God will make the difference. So remember, adding a little salt to our character will require more than relying on our natural talents and abilities. Fill yourself up with the Word of God, then shake, shake, shake.

Secondly, Jesus understood perfectly the benefits of salt and uses it in the Word as a visual to live by. So, if we better understand the benefits of salt, we will better understand the reason we are needed to be the salt of the earth. Here is some of what I learned from an article titled, “The Many Benefits of Salt.”

“Salt has two major roles in flavoring foods; it adds saltiness and enhances flavor.”
Wow! Two benefits here: 1) salt makes things salty. I know that is so profound you can hardly stand it but here is the best part about being salty. Our saltiness adds salts to others, which in turn can then be added to others to be salty. It can be a chain reaction. I love that. When we salt each other, the salt doesn’t lose its saltiness, instead, it can clearly be used to salt again. And 2) Word filled salt shakers enhance the flavor of this world. Plain and simple, this world is much more flavorful when we as Christians are shaking.

“Scientific studies have proved that humans and other mammals exhibit a natural craving for salt.”
This world not only needs what we have to offer, the crave it. We are all like a vacuum, void and empty without Christ, and many will fill that emptiness with anything that feels good. Challenge yourself to offer those around you something, or may I say the Only One thing that will truly fill that emptiness they crave.

“Because salt affects the way we perceive other tastes, it often can be added to food products to balance the flavor.”
As the salt of this earth, you can bring balance into a very unbalanced world. Never shrink back. I think we are all afraid to speak truth and shake salt but this world is desperate for balance and we have what they need.

“Salt acts as a control agent for fermented foods such as bread and cheese.”
I’ve made bread often in my life but until now did not know that salt played such an important part. The salt actually slows the gas production from the yeast which then in turn promotes a cell structure that creates an acceptable texture. In cheese, the salt regulates the amount of acid produced by the culture, giving cheese the desired flavor. Fellow believer, we, as the salt of this earth, bring the right texture and flavor to those who may otherwise experience negative effects of fermentation. If you find yourself around fermented people, shake some salt on them. See what a difference it can make. Just like in making bread, the smallest amount can have a really positive result.

“Salt also acts as a functional additive. Generally, through a complex chemical reaction, salt modifies a food, providing some desirable finished product characteristics.”
Can anyone say amen to that? Christ does more than modify though…He changes us and makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Although the finished product is not completed until we are with Him in glory, there is no doubt that our character, in Christ, is much more desirable. People need to know this. So many people do not like themselves, struggling daily with their insecurities. Offer them Christ. Find ways to salt their lives. This is what we are called to.

I find myself in positions every day to be the salt of the earth. I need to be more aware of how full my salt shaker is, for one, and then make a concerted effort to shake it out a bit. It is so easy to go through every day never paying attention to the needs of this flavorless world. Now that I know how many ways salt can make a difference, I’m going to do my best to enhance this world through Christ.

What do you want to do to flavor this world? Take a few moments and review the list above. Then make a list. Present your list to God and ask Him to give you the courage to shake the world.