You are the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13 NRSV)

What does it mean to be "the salt of the earth"? Jesus was complimenting his followers when he said to them, "You are the salt of the earth." In the ancient world salt was a valuable commodity. Workers were paid with salt. An interesting footnote is that the word "salary" is derived from the word, "salt." Persons wanting to buy something in the ancient world would pay for it with salt, in the same way we use money today. People would treasure salt as we might value gold or silver.

A father said to the son, "Put this salt in water and come back to me in the morning." The boy did as he was told, and the next day his father said, "Please bring me the salt you put in the water yesterday." "I can't find it," replied the boy. "It has dissolved."

The wise father told his son, "Taste the water from this side of the dish." Again the son did as his father told him. "What taste does it have?" his father asked. "Salt," the son replied. Next, the father told his son to pour the salty water on the ground. The boy did so only to discover that after the water had evaporated the salt reappeared.

Perhaps in calling his followers the "salt of the earth," Jesus meant that once people become his followers there is no turning back. "You are the salt of the earth."

Loving God, guide me, as I steadfastly follow you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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