Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness,
how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves,
and be at peace with one another.
Salt plays a prominent role in the Bible. It appears throughout the Scripture ... in Leviticus, Numbers, Job, Ezekiel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Colossians, Ephesians ... therefore it is obviously important to our Lord. So important, that He made a Covenant ... a Salt Covenant ... with His chosen people. Its name comes from an ancient Hebrew practice: Each person carried a small pouch of salt. When two or more men wanted to enter into a permanent relationship with each other, the parties to this "covenant" would mix their salt in a common bowl, break bread, dip it into the salt, and eat it. When they were finished, they would redistribute the salt in to their pouches. The only way to break their covenant would be to separate each grain of salt from the others and return it to its original owner. Since this was impossible, their established bond would remain forever; it was eternal.
This eternal bond that salt represents relates to the relationship God wants to restore and experience with each of us. In fact, in both Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5, God proclaims an everlasting Salt Covenant with the children of Israel. What were the aspects of this Salt Covenant and how does it relate to our New Testament Scripture in Mark 9?
Here is the significance of Salt, both in the ancient Hebrew custom and in God's Covenant: 1) It makes that which tastes bad, more palatable. 2) It binds people together, or people to God. 3) It speaks of preservation. 4) It speaks of healing. 5) It speaks of purifying. 6) It speaks of its continuance. 7) It speaks of loyalty. In New Testament language, it is easy to see that all these aspects speak of God's Grace.
So, in Mark, Chapter 9, when Jesus is speaking to his disciples, he warns them that "everyone will be salted with fire", I think He is telling them that we will be "seasoned" and made suitable ... healed, purified by God's Grace ... in order that we might reside in the Kingdom to come. But what does it mean to "lose our saltiness"? First of all, this is a warning that we must continue to purify ourselves! It is a continual process to maintain a pleasing flavor that testifies to our faith. Could it be that He is reminding us that we are to remain vigilant of what God's Grace has given us, and we are to remain obedient to our binding Covenant with God? How often do we take Grace for granted, and forget that we have received this unmerited favor from God, and it does not give us license to offend Him, and thereby lose "our flavor"?
When Jesus tells us to "salt ourselves", might He be telling us to apply the preserving and purifying principles of God's Grace; to deny ourselves, to suppress our pride, selfishness and disputes, so that we might present ourselves as acceptable to God? He follows that admonition with "be at peace with one another". We are to avoid conflict and seek each other's well-being, thereby preserving our common bond and our faith.
I really like the picture that is painted by the Hebrew custom of mixing their salt together to form an eternal relationship with another. Once entered into that relationship, it cannot be broken. What a beautiful picture of God's Promise and Grace!
I am blessed to be a part of a Ladies Bible Study that meets once a week. I can truly say that each of these women add a "saltiness" to our worship. We are bound together through our mutual love of God and a deep desire to know Him more. We help preserve and heal each other, as we recognize the impossibility of living a perfect life and our need for God's Grace. This group of Godly women give true meaning to the expression "salt of the earth".