Our Lord’s teaching the disciples of the true character of those who follow him must have come as quite a shock. Here was their Messiah setting Himself to speak great and profound words. The ears of the disciples were ready to hear from their King. They wanted to hear Him announce when He would set up His kingdom, spoil the Romans, and re-establish the nation of Israel to its former glory. Their ears would not be tickled this day! Imagine their amazement when they heard:
William Barclay in his commentary on Matthew’s gospel opens the fifth chapter with this assessment of today’s world, he writes: One of the characteristics of the world in which we live is the lowering of standards. Standards of honesty, standards of diligence in work, standards in conscientiousness, moral standards, all tend to be lowered. The Christian must be the person who holds aloft the standard of absolute purity in speech, in conduct, and even in thought…The Christian cannot withdraw himself from the world, but he must, as James said, keep himself “unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit –Spiritual poverty is the foundational principle of Christian experience. A Christian cannot start right in his new life who has first not felt a poverty of spirit. Those who are “poor” in spirit are in their own eyes of no account. These are of the royal blood of heaven—Theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
2. Blessed are they that mourn –We must assume that mourning here is a result of the evil in the world and the almost universal disdain for God — for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek – the lowly minded ready to give up all sense of pride of accomplishment, power and influence among men. They seek not things. They worry not over what they may eat or wear or drink for they know that God is aware of their needs…their daily bread. The “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” knowing that these things shall be added unto them. They boast not of themselves but of Christ – for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness – Unlike so many Christians who are full of themselves; full of their own righteousness; lording their perceived righteousness over all others. Their righteousness is based on the Law rather than grace – for they shall be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful – Easy to be merciful for those who need mercy rather than judgment and condemnation. They help others in their troubles rather than turning away and walking to the other side of the street ignoring he who lay in the ditch beaten and robbed. They help others…they shall be helped in their need. They are not only merciful in word but in disposition. In Christ they have found mercy therefore they are obligated to be merciful –for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart – Only a pure heart will see heaven. Only those who have received God’s grace as their own are pure in heart. David’s cry was , “Lord create in me a clean heart.” None but the pure in heart will enter into the Kingdom of God – for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers – The verse before speaks of purity – first purity then peaceable. These are the first to go to their brothers and reconcile between themselves. Peacemakers are quick to see how to mend fences –for they shall be called the children of God.
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake – persecution is something we know very little of these days. If we are persecuted in any way whether by word or sword, we know that we are of God for persecution is from the evil one who hates righteousness, thus pursues the righteous to cause them harm. So, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake –for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In the ancient world salt was highly valued. It was used as money worth its weight and considered so valuable that for a thief to be found pilfering another person’s salt would be tantamount to a capital crime in some instances. People, cannot live without salt.
The Greeks called salt theion, or divine. The Romans said, “there is nothing more useful than sun and salt.” In the time of Jesus salt was the wages paid to workman of whom it could be said that they were “worth their salt,” and of those workmen who were lazy, it was said of them that they were “not worth their salt.”
I. ARE YE THE SALT OF THE EARTH?
Ye… a plural word meaning more than one or in this case “yourselves.” Salt is a metaphor for disciple; earth is a metaphor for people.
When Jesus our Lord says that “ye are the salt of the earth,” He pays us the highest of compliment that can be paid to any man. As an example, when we wish to stress someone’s solid worth and usefulness, we say of that person, “He is the salt of the earth” describing that person as someone with great integrity, honesty, and goodness [Duke Akers].
Jesus said to His disciples ,ye are the Salt of the earth.
1. He does not say you may be the salt of the earth.
2. He does not say you can be the salt of the earth.
3. He does not say you should be the salt of the earth.
Whether you like it or not if you are a Christian you ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH.
A.. The Beatitudes speak not of laws, rules, guidelines, or principles – they speak of attitudes.
If you are a true disciple of Christ then to you:
1. Shall be given title to the kingdom of heaven-vs.3, humble..
2. Shall be comforted-vs.4 mourn,
3. Shall inherit the earth-v.5 meek i.e. mild, i.e. gentle.
4. Shall be filled with righteousness-vs.6 hunger
5. Shall obtain mercy-vs. 7 merciful
6. Shall see God-vs. 8 pure in heart; without spot
7. Shall be called the children of God-vs. 9 peaceable
8. Being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel yours is the kingdom of heaven-vs.10-11 treated deceitfully
Great is your reward in heaven-vs. 12
B. The Savor of Salt — There is not a single person that has ever been born who has not, in some way, for good or for bad or indifferent, influenced another person. All of us “leave our stamp” on this world when we leave it. In this life we either increase or decrease the happiness of others. A little salt scattered here and there by a handful of disciples soon salts the whole earth…that is the point. A disciple of Jesus Christ is salt, the salt salting the whole world.
1. As savory salt we are a PORTRAYER of good attitudes.. .
2. As savory salt we are a PRESERVATIVE against the spiritual decay of the world.
II. IF THE SALT HATH LOST ITS SAVOR, WHEREWITH SHALL IT BE SALTED.
We have a word for something that has lost its flavor, it is the word “insipid “as in “the soup was insipid” meaning, flavorless. When a Christian becomes insipid in his walk, then his life as a Christian is flavorless, dull and flat, it is good for nothing. This kind of Christian, insofar as his usefulness to Christ is concerned is simply “cast out, and worthy to be trodden under foot of men.” This does not mean cast out of the grace of God, through faith in Christ, for that can never be, but his profession as a Christian is rejected by those with whom he is in contact. The word for “trodden” is katapateo which means to be “trampled down,” rendering his profession useful only for a path for the soles of someone’s foot to walk on.
A. The “lost” savor
1. Not the salvation of the disciple because it is incorruptible seed.
2. Not God’s Grace for once bestowed never taken back. [God does not repent of His calling of grace].
3. Not God’s gracious gifts given for the purpose of bringing men to Christ [God does not repent of His gifts].
4. It is the removal of qualification to represent Christ and His Gospel.
• A mind free to receive the word of God.
• A tongue to preach the gospel.
• A ear to hear the cry of the lost.
• A hand to do God’s work.
• A foot to carry the gospel to others.
B. If we have lost our savour what is our worth to Christ?
• In the Jewish Synagogue it was their practice that if a Jew became an apostate [left the Jewish religion for the Christian faith], and later returned to Judaism , before he was received back into the synagogue, he must in penitence lie across the door of the and invite people to trample upon him as they entered.
• In some early churches acceptance of this tradition occurred, and if a Christian who had been ejected by discipline from the church was compelled, before he was received back, to lie at the door of the church and to invite people as they entered to, “Trample upon me who am the salt which has lost its savor.”
The phrase “worth one’s salt” began with the ancient Romans. One reference suggested that the origin of the phrase “worth one’s salt” could date back to before 900 B.C. During that time, Roman soldiers were paid for work in salarium, which was an allowance for the purchase of salt. The ‘Sal’ in the word salarium is Latin for pay. Over the years, the word salarium was shortened and came into the English language as salary.
To say that someone is worth his or her salt, you are saying that he or she is worth the wages that he or she earns. A Human Resources manager, for example might tell her supervi¬sor that she had not hired a new administrative assistant because she had not interviewed anyone worth their salt.
The Roman emperor Julian had this to say regarding his experience with salt-less professors: Have you looked at these Christians closely? Hollow eyed, pale-cheeked, flat breasted all; they brood their lives away, un-spurred by ambition: the sun shines for them, but they do not see it: the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die.”
2 Corinthians 2:15-17 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life . And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
In Palestine the ordinary oven is out of doors and is built of stone on a base of tiles. In such ovens “in order to retain the heat a thick bed of salt is laid under the tile floor. After a certain length of time the salt perishes. The tiles are taken up, the salt removed and thrown on the road outside the door of the oven…it has lost its power to heat the tiles and is thrown out.
If we are Christians who are indeed the Salt of the earth we will present ourselves contented and joyful people. Christians who have lost their savor are neither content nor joyful under any circumstance – they either have lost their love for God or are not the called according to His purpose. Instead of spreading the joy of the gospel they repel others by their own loss of savor.
We who are the Salt of the earth need to rediscover the radiance many of us have lost. We must be savor not insipid men and women. We should be serene in a troubled world; full of the joy of life in a depressed society; we must not only have joy but we must also be the diffuser of it.
William Barclay, the noted theologian writes: if we are not a Christian fulfilling his purpose as being the Salt of the earth, we are on our way to disaster. We are meant to be the Salt of the earth, and if we do not bring to life the purity, the antiseptic power, the radiance that we ought, we have lost our savour and “wherewith” or how and to who shall be salted?
A Christian writer wrote in the preface of his book dedicating it to his friend, J.Y. Simpson commends Simpson by describing as a person …who makes the best seem credible.
As salty Christians, our lives will make the incredible, credible to those with whom we come into contact. How is it that we lose our savor and make Christ and Christianity desirable. Christians should be the most joyful people on the earth. Our lives should reflect the joy of our salvation and hope for the future.
Oliver Wendell Holmes the great author, said this concerning the image we Christians often present to the world. He said, I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertaker.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in his diary, as if he was recording an extraordinary phenomenon, I have been to church today, and am not depressed.
“The story is told in Greek Mythology of a goddess who came unseen but was always known by the blessings she left in her pathway. Trees blackened by forest fires put forth new leaves as she passed by. In her footprints at the brook side, violets sprang up. The stagnant pool became a spring of sparkling water; the parched fields blossomed as the rose, and every hillside and valley blushed with new life and beauty when she passed.”
There is a story told of another princess, who was sent as a present to a particular king. About her was an atmosphere as sweet-smelling as the garments of Aphrodite. She seemed as beautiful and as pure as if fresh from a bath of dew, and her breath was as sweet as perfume of the richest rose. But, strange enough, in the atmosphere that she carried about with her was the contagion of death. From her infancy, this beautiful woman had known no food but poison. She had been reared on it, and had become so permeated with it that she herself became the very essence of it. She would breath her fragrant breath into a swarm of in¬sects, and behold, they lie dead at her feet. She would place her loveliest Flower upon her bosom and lo, it would fade and fall apart. Into her presence cam a hummingbird; it fluttered, poised a moment, shuddered, and fell dead.
Let us learn from the Apostle Paul: 2 Corinthians 2:15-17 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
People of Sovereign Grace: We must decide if we are to leave a legacy of insipidness, a savour of death or a legacy of a people of sweet savour. One way or another we will be the “Salt of the earth.” Amen