But. It’s a small word that carries a lot of power. When we use the word but, people brace themselves for what comes next, or they might even make a face. We may not want hear what follows it, but we have to pay attention if we want a complete picture. We have to listen to resolve our feelings and prepare to act in response to what the whole truth is. When Jesus uses the word but as he talks about our identity and calling to be salt, it is only reasonable to lean in and pay super close attention.
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. (Matthew 5:13)
Salt has a kryptonite—a neutralizer that renders something formerly powerful powerless to advance God’s agenda in the world.
Salt in Jesus’ day was derived from salt marshes, and it contained impurities that had to be “leached,” or filtered out. This was possible because pure salt was more soluble than the impurities and could be separated. This process would leave a residue so diluted and impure it was of little practical worth. Things that are “thrown out” or “trampled underfoot” are things that have no practical value. So was Jesus saying that the “salt of the earth,” which is so valuable in the Kingdom of God, could, through a process of impurity, become worthless and useless?
Yes. Here’s how.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
Jesus told his men they were chosen “out of the world”—the polluting factor. His point? Worldliness and godliness are at odds. We can be salt that remains salty and useful, or we can be a diluted residue worth nothing. We can be pure, or we can be polluted. We can allow God’s Spirit and Word to wash and leach out the world’s ways from our spirits, or we can blend the world’s ways with God’s ways at our own peril. It is an everyday choice to have spiritual boundaries to preserve our saltiness.
Make no mistake: God’s intention is for every believer to have a positive Kingdom effect, but he does not shield us from potential pollution of our commitment. He didn’t shield Jesus in the wilderness encounter, where Satan, appealing to Jesus’ flesh, offered him bread and tempted him to break his fast. Satan has not changed. The battle has not changed. The offer has not changed. The path to victory and staying pure before God has not changed either.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:5-8)
Full of the Holy Spirit. Led by the Spirit. Speaking words of the Spirit. The result?
When the devil had ﬁnished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)
Jesus did not let worldliness pollute his godliness. Two more times the devil came to Jesus to solicit compromise and pollute his commitment. Two more offers to be worldly that matched the moment. But the same Holy Spirit’s filling and leading led to the same plunging of God’s Word into the heart of each suggestion. The devil left him. The Son of God showed all future sons of God who are commissioned to be the salt of God how to stay salty (uncompromised) and remain unpolluted (pure). What Jesus models for us is meant for us.
Saltiness is keeping all your Holy Spirit capacity to influence. Saltiness requires being full of and led by the Holy Spirit every day. Saltiness requires speaking words of the Spirit as a way of life.
God says: “Stay filled. Stay close. Stay ready to speak truth. Stay pure.”
Kenny Luck offers more encouragement this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Overflow by Kenny Luck. Copyright ©2023 by Kenny Luck. Published by NavPress in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.