Today I am thankful for this little salt shaker. It sits in the middle of the table in my office, a reminder of a former team member who didn’t quite clean out his desk all the way, and this little remnant was delivered to me.
As I see it sitting there, it reminds me of litany of advice, cliches and other random things adults say, but may never take the time to sift through and really understand the meaning.
- Don’t be so salty
- Pouring salt in a wound
- Take it with a grain of salt
- Worth his salt
- Go pound salt
It also reminds me that the next time I get french fries from the work cafeteria I don’t have to use those little packets of salt.
Honestly, poor salt. It gets such a bad rap. The low sodium diet really ruined its reputation as a useful part of culinary arts. It must be avoided, removed from cans of soup, and can be considered an insult to chefs everywhere if you use it before you taste the food on your plate.
And yet… God, the creator of the universe (and the creator of salt), tells us specifically to be “the salt of the earth.” So what’s the implication there? I don’t think he’s referring to my previous list of cliches.
What are the qualities and properties of salt that we’re being asked to emulate? What are the uses that provide value? What was Jesus talking about?
I was reading a cookbook a few years back, intended to help me learn how to cook anything from scratch and break free from my dependency on recipes. It had an entire section on the basic elements of any really well made recipe. Acid was one element, but guess what else made the list? Yep. Salt.
Turns out salt is not the culinary devil some make it out to be. In fact in times before refrigerators, freezers and other methods that prolonged the life of food, salt was a pretty useful element.
Have you ever tried to eat a dozen saltines without a glass of water? Can’t be done. Your mouth turns into a desert. Salt can help remove moisture. Salt when applied to meat in the right way also can have fabulous results. Think prosciutto. Salt can even counter bitterness… e.g. the heavenly dessert, salted dark chocolate and caramel. Nuff said.
Assuming though that Jesus wasn’t talking about prosciutto and dark chocolate, what should my little table salt shaker remind me?
Salt, when applied at the right time, in the right amount, brings out the best of the flavor of a dish. It brings it to the front. If we are the salt of the earth, we should bring out the best in people through our presence. Like salt interacting with the various ingredients in a meal, when we interact with the people in our daily lives, we should bring out the best in them.
Salt can also preserve and protect food, helping it to last longer especially in harsh conditions. Do I help protect those around me? Do I build them up and give them encouragement and help so they can make it through the harsh conditions life can throw at us? Or do I decrease their potential by creating anxiety?
Salt can counteract bitterness. Do I create bitterness or reduce it? Do I fuel anger, create division, and model a lifestyle of unforgiveness and holding grudges? I have an opportunity to do just the opposite. To love in unconditional ways, even when I disagree, even when I am hurt.
What about you? Do you bring out the best in others? Do you counteract the bitterness of life for those you encounter? Do you protect others and help them get through harsh times? Do you model unconditional love and kindness?
Another little known fact about salt… as humans we need sodium and chloride to survive each day. Literally. We need it to breathe. Without it, our bodies wouldn’t be able to transport oxygen, or even move muscles including the heart.
If salt is that vital to life, and you and I are called to be the salt of the earth… then you and I are vital. We have a purpose. We’re necessary. For each other. For our hearts.
So today I am thankful for a little salt shaker.
For a little reminder that I shouldn’t be salty in the 21st century American cultural sense, and I shouldn’t pour salt in a wound… Instead I should help protect those around me, bring out the best in them and counter act the bitterness in the world.
Maybe… with a little bit of thankfulness.
Inspired by John’s left behind salt shaker, Matthew 5:13 and Colossians 4:6