Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5:13).
What type of salt are you?
This saying of Jesus of Nazareth comes from His renowned Sermon on the Mount, of which the people there at the time that He delivered it were “astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority” (Matthew 7:29).
I also feel that same witness of Christ’s divine power and authority as I read these words in the New Testament.
The base idea of this simple parable is that we be true to our convictions, and to be truly converted. For, if we are not true to the convictions that we claim to be ours, it is for naught; good for nothing, and indeed we prove to ourselves and portray to others that they are, in all actuality, not our convictions at all, and therefore we have not become converted.
To me, this parable or comparison of us as the salt is also a symbol of our own individual or personal holiness, or sanctification, which ultimately lead to our level of conversion. The terms holy and sanctified are synonymous, and mean to be made or set apart; consecrated for a special or divine purpose. In many latin languages, the words holy and Saint are the same. That is interesting and significant to me, because it gives me a lens to view myself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and by this I mean and include all of us who strive to become a true disciple or follower of our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.
So, what is it exactly that we are to be separated from as we grow in our own personal holiness? The indirect answer to this question is found in what Jesus later taught in that same Sermon on the Mount:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
Holiness and sanctification come by seeking and serving God, and yielding our hearts unto Him (Helaman 3:35). Therefore, we are to separate ourselves from mammon, which means or refers to “the world”, or worldliness.
We first begin this path by outwardly showing God that we covenant to follow Him through the ordinance of baptism, of which we are then promised the reception of the Holy Ghost; who in time sanctifies our hearts as if it were by fire.
We further achieve this separation or sanctification by the Spirit when we do the will of God with a righteous intent or attitude. As the apostle James observes and encourages:
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed (James 1:21-25).
This is effectively why the Lord has given us the charge and commandment to “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), so that we may obtain this sanctification, and thus become more and more like Him, as well as lay hold upon every good thing.
Even more importantly is the attitude or intent that we do the will of God. As the prophet Mormon observes:
For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such (Moroni 7:5-9).
In conjunction with these thoughts, we become the good savory salt, and a “light on the hill” to those around us as we follow Paul’s counsel to Timothy:
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
By doing all of these things we will assuredly know and fulfill what James also taught:
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:17-18, 24, 26).
This teaching indeed falls directly in line with Christ’s salt example. It is by our works, or by our doing the Lord’s will that makes the difference of us becoming either the good savory salt of the earth, or the good for nothing salt that is cast out.
Although this may seem as rather blunt, we may rest assured that our conversion is truly a lifelong process. It is not required, in fact impossible, that we be completely converted overnight. We must remember the that the true pattern of progression and conversion is from grace to grace, line upon line, and precept upon precept.
We must also care enough, and listen to the Spirit as He gives us personal guidance and what I like to refer as personal commandments in our aid to become holy. You will find that the word of God extends beyond the general commandments given in scripture. Indeed we may receive personal commandments that are unique to us, just as the Savior imparted the personal commandment to the young rich man to sell all that he had and give to the poor, in addition to his obedience to the scriptural commandments since his youth in order for him to be perfect, and to gain eternal life.
Our lives matter. We each and individually matter at least to God and Jesus if to no one else. We can make a difference in the world and in the lives of those we cross paths with. That impact will either be for good or for bad. Let it be for good. Now, may we find confidence in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and in His infinite Atonement, to gain the faith and resolve to move forward on the path of holiness; that we may become truly converted to His gospel, and thus become the true salt of the earth.