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Salty

I used to visit Europe fairly regularly. I was charmed by the quaint buildings and ways of life that were ground into cobblestone pavements and painted on walls. I felt privileged to witness elements of bygone eras, even if it was a forgotten castle ruin down a forgotten road in the middle of a forgotten field. Or if it was a tiny village that still joyously held village parades around their country roads with no crowds to cheer them on, just because that's what they'd done for generations.


I miss walking old streets, paved with history, covered in stories. Lives coming and going, criss-crossed and interwoven without ever knowing whose been before; without ever realizing whose life you’ve passed by.


We’ve all sojourned through poignant moments of aged colour, experiences that silently parade and absorb the preservation of significance for those around us.


Preservation of that which is good seasons our memories and relationships, touches our hearts and establishes meaning that is carried along from person to person, generation to generation, and centuries into eternity.


Preservation of that which is hostile sucks dry and imprisons, destroys and lays waste for what can never be recovered.


The importance of eternity is unseen, but the glow of life shouldn’t be lost forever.


What ingredient do we require for such palpability? What is imperative for preservation to take place? What imbues its uniqueness?


Salt.


The bible draws on many parallels with salt as its metaphor. When a dish is well-seasoned, salt enhances flavours and waters our taste buds. Salt acts as a preserving agent to prevent rot and extend the life of food. When a dish is under-seasoned or over-seasoned it’s tasteless or inedible.


I did an extended fast a few years ago and it was recommended to end the fast very gently with a vegetable broth, no salt. Wow. Even after weeks of no food, that broth was almost inedible. It needed salt!


One of the most well-known bible scriptures with salt as its metaphor is this:


Matthew 5:13

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.


I sure felt like throwing that vegetable broth out so I can imagine how disappointing it would be if you had salt without flavour.


However, an overuse of salt is no less vile. In relationships being too ‘salty’ makes us just as unpalatable and offensive.


The other best-known scripture with salt as its metaphor is this:


Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.


That would be good, wouldn't it? To know how to answer everyone. Full of grace. Don’t we, too often, have conversation that is full of salt and only seasoned with a bit of grace? That’s not how the bible advises we answer everyone but it’s often what we think is called for. At least, I’ve been guilty of that.


What are we valuing that we seek to preserve in our conversation, in our relationships? Is it good? Is it worth the salt?


Here’s an interesting scripture, and it’s my favourite of those that I’ve found regarding saltiness.


Mark 9:50b

Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”


I’m so glad the bible stipulated this! It makes it nice and clear, doesn’t it? Some salt is a positive thing. Seasoning with salt enhances zest and binds flavours together but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While we’re sprinkling salt around, remain at peace with each other. Take care. Be conscious and intentional of how much salt we’re using.


Salt can destroy. It can eat away at anything. There’s an interesting passage in Judges that illustrates the intentional use of salt to ensure nothing would ever be productive on the ground again.


Judges 9:45b

… then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.


I’m a gardener and if you want a natural remedy to kill weeds in the driveway (as opposed to the garden) you use a healthy dousing of salt and then boiling water because it kills the root system. Nothing will thrive after that. He scattered salt over the destroyed city to ensure nothing would be able to live there again.


Jeremiah 17:5-6 explains that whoever trusts in other people and draws their strength from ‘flesh’ will be as if they “dwell in the parched places of the desert; in a salt land where no one lives.” In trusting people instead of God, we turn our hearts away from Him. In disregarding God we become sapped of life. Do you think this might be suggesting that relying on people, who can be too salty and therefore damaging, without God's grace, will cause us to become parched of the life that only God can bring?


2 Chronicles 13:5

Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?


Why a covenant of salt? Salt signifies permanence and purification. This is why salty metaphors are so useful. They speak of fulfilment, longevity and endurance.


Salt was used in offerings before the Lord and was part of the offerings that the Israelites had to bring before the Lord each day “without fail” (Ezra 6:9). The offerings were valued and couldn't be denied. The salt was a must to accompany them.


Exodus 30:35

And make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred.


The importance of salt in the bible demonstrates the importance of how we need to measure our response to others. Salt contributes part of a perpetual blend to mixtures that feed the soul. The reference to a perfumer indicates the need to be considered and well-trained. Remember, the use of salt is for flavour and preservation of what is valued. It is tasteful, fragrant and proportionate, enhancing and preserving whatever it touches.



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