13“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 underfoot.
14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Scholars tell us that salt had many uses in ancient times. While these included culinary, medicinal, and even economic applications, the chief use of salt prior to refrigeration seems to have been for preservation.
Perhaps, therefore, what Jesus is telling us is that we live in a world that is rife with decay and darkness; and that our job as His followers is to find ways to counter these forces in the lives of the people we meet by being salt and light for Him.
As this is our job as believers, if we do not do it, then the question becomes “Who will?”
To illustrate the importance of fulfilling our God-given task to be the salt of the earth, I share the following story with you today.
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, former Asbury Seminary professor and Asbury College president, tells a story about growing up in rural Lumberton, North Carolina, during the depression. It was Dennis’ job, as a young boy, to rub salt into the meat his father brought home from hunting. He would rub salt into the meat until his young muscles were sore. Finally, when it was thoroughly salted, he would hang it up in the storehouse.
One day company arrived, so Dennis’ mother asked him to get a ham out of the storehouse. Dennis ran out, got a big ham off of a hook, and brought it into the kitchen. He laid it on his mother‘s cutting board and left. He was just about out the front door when heard his mother yell, “Dennis!”
Young Dennis knew from experience that whenever his mother screamed his name like that he was in trouble, so he slunk his way to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, afraid to go in.
Looking up at his mother from the doorway, he noticed she was not glaring at him but rather staring down at the meat. Dennis looked and noticed something unusual. He would say that it was the first time in his life he ever saw meat move. Stepping closer, he noticed maggots pouring out of the slice his mother had made into the pork.
Dennis thought for sure he was going to get it. But all Mom said was, “Not enough salt, Dennis. Not enough salt.”
Many believers bemoan the state of our culture today. But while it is easy to want to blame Hollywood, or television or Madison Avenue, or liberal schooling, or even the government for the decay of our culture, maybe, just maybe, the real problem is “not enough salt” among ourselves. If we feel the world is decaying around us, the problem may very well be “not enough salt.”
In light of this, may we be faithful at every opportunity to be the salt and light that Jesus calls us to be!
Available widely on the internet. Monty Leavell, of First united Methodist Church in Artesia, New Mexico, appears to have actually heard Dr. Kinlaw tell this story firsthand.
Other sources include: