“If the Salt Loses Its Strength”
WARS have been fought over it. It has been used as a medium of exchange. In ancient China it was second only to gold in value. Yes, salt has long been viewed by mankind as a highly prized commodity. To this day, healing and antiseptic properties are attributed to it, and it is used around the globe as a flavor enhancer and as a preservative.
In view of the many desirable qualities and uses of salt, it is not surprising that it is used figuratively in the Bible. The Mosaic Law, for example, required that anything offered on the altar to Jehovah had to be salted. (Leviticus 2:13) This was not done to boost the taste of the sacrifices, but likely because salt represented freedom from corruption or decay.
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said to his followers: “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13) By this statement, Jesus implied that their preaching to others about God’s Kingdom would have a potentially preserving, or life-saving, influence on their hearers. Indeed, those who applied Jesus’ words would be protected from the moral and spiritual decay in the communities in which they lived and served.—1 Peter 4:1-3.
However, Jesus went on to give the warning: “But if the salt loses its strength, . . . it is no longer usable for anything but to be thrown outside to be trampled on by men.” Commenting on this, Bible scholar Albert Barnes said that the salt known to Jesus and his apostles “was impure, mingled with vegetable and earthy substances.” So if the salt lost its saltiness, “a considerable quantity of earthy matter” might remain. “This,” Barnes noted, “was good for nothing except . . . to place in paths, or walks, as we use gravel.”
In heeding this warning, Christians should take care not to cease their public witnessing or to relapse into ungodly patterns of conduct. Otherwise they would deteriorate spiritually and could become useless, like ‘salt that has lost its strength.’