Monday, July 24, 2006

Salt of the earth

OK, I'm a little lazy tonight. I focused on one verse this morning, Matthew 5:13. "You are the salt of the earth ..." And I had not many thoughts of any significance beyond that. However, I did a last minute google search on the phrase and come upon the following thoughts from Vance Havner (1901-1986):

(1). Salt of the Earth

"Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matt.5:13)

It might have seemed ridiculous to a casual bystander for Jesus to say to a handful of ordinary men, "You are the salt of the earth and I am sending you out to permeate and infiltrate and season the whole world." Yet that little band, that pinch or salt, started something that has survived the centuries and changed the history of mankind.
Our Lord used the simplest figures of speech. Nothing is plainer, more universal and old-fashioned than salt. It is such a common commodity that we take it for granted, but if suddenly no salt could be had, what a difference that would make! What would life be without salt! A little boy said, "Salt is what tastes bad when you don't have it." Christians are the salt of the earth and we ought to make a difference.

1. Salt has a seasoning influence.
There ought to be a flavor, a tang, a relish, and a zest about us Christians. Someone has said that our main trouble today is not that our doctrine is false, but that our experience is flat.

2. Salt preserves.
Civilization has been saved from destruction by the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit in Christians. Salt prevents decay and restrains corruption. One godly person in a group will restrain evil conversation.

3. Salt purifies and cleanses.
The best gargle for a sore throat is pain salt water. The church of Jesus Christ has had a purifying influence wherever it has gone. You may think that your community is in a bad state, but take out the church and you would not want to live there.

4. Salt heals.
Lives are changed, souls saved, homes rescued from disaster, broken hearts mended, sorrows eased, burdens lifted, sick bodies and minds made well because of the antiseptic and therapeutic power of the Holy Spirit working through God's people, the salt of the earth.

5. Salt creates thirst.
God's people should develop on the hearts of men a desire to know God. We ought so to live that others would want the peace and joy they see in us. Does anybody want to be a Christian like you? The best argument for Christianity is a Christian.

6. Salt irritates.
When the salt of God's truth is rubbed into this diseased old world, sick souls may smart. When the light is turned on, some will wince. The devil hates the Gospel and fights back… We are not the sugar of the earth - but we are salt and we will not be welcomed by a generation full of wounds, bruises and putrefying sores.

We need to get into the salt business and we must start with a few. this is God's program today. It sounds old-fashion, but salt is old-fashioned, sin is old-fashioned and so is the Gospel. We have been tickling palates with fancy flavors, spicy relishes, and spicy recipes borrowed from the world. Too many pulpit gourmets and theological epicures with menus from Hollywood are trying to please the jaded appetites of a fed up humanity. We need old-fashioned salt, and if we do not start producing more of it in our churches, we shall be good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.

(Used by permission from The Vance Havner Notebook, p.79-80)

There are few individuals that "salt of the earth" can describe without qualifications. We are all in danger of "losing our flavor" due to the impurities that are mixed with our salt. It seems, though, that some seem "saltier" than others. I remember a quiet young physician that was once a member of our church. We were Bible study friends with him and his wife. Dr. Paul Cone lost his wife Karen several years back to complications from Lupus. He coped as only a Christian can. I've seen that coping in the passing of two friends lately, in fact, and I can only hope that I can cope as well if my wife passes away before I do.

Paul Cone was diagnosed last year with leukemia. Tonight he passed away. He leaves his second wife and two daughters. He served his God and his community as a family practicitioner. He was true salt in a world in need of healing.

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