“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:50 ESV.
I’ve been concerned about lying and about how it ruins public discourse in the western world that yearns toward secularism and progressivism today.
It used to be that the majority of public figures recognized their responsibility, as public figures, to communicate truthfully, in order to honor both the society of which they were representatives and leaders, and their own relationship with God—or at least with the fundamental rules that held society together, if they were skeptics.
Ralph Keyes, a writer of social commentary, published a book in 2004 titled The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life. Deplorably, according to Keyes’ title, our time of dishonesty is to be characterized as an era.
Note: we don’t breeze past times labeled an eras very quickly.
Think of the Mesozoic Era. It lasted 180 million years (if you are a fan of non-biblical history).
If you are not a fan of non-biblical history, think of The Roosevelt Era, which lasted during FDR’s twelve-year presidency, but understand that the cultural impact of that era has extended its progressive energy even into our present, eighty-four years after 1933, when FDR’s presidency began.
I hope all of us reading this post—like me—would like to get past this ruinous Post-Truth Era.
Currently, many of our politicians, public intellectuals, media savants, academics, “experts,” and other talking heads practice cagy partial truth, and when challenged about some lie, they say they merely “misspoke.”
What can we do to reverse the impact on our culture of the lying that has ruined and continues to ruin us?
Well, character matters.
Which leads me to salt.
Here are words that pertain to salt. These words appear in the Bible in paragraphs that place them in metaphorical relationship to salt.
The word salt is used by Jesus as a qualifier noun when speaking to the fishermen and farmers He taught during the Sermon on the Mount – “You are the salt of the earth” Matt 5:13 ESV.
By Jesus’ use of the word salt, we today get a sense about how He characterized his listeners. He is saying his listeners are plain, straight-forward people, truth-tellers probably—truth-listeners for sure.
The salt to which Jesus likens them was used in their era for many purposes, importantly for the purification of meat that was to be used as a sacrifice. Therefore, the salt was an element of the sacrifice, and it had sacrificial intensity and rightness.
Salt also was used for antisepsis when applied to wounds, which made it healthy and therefore right. Salt preserved raw food and also it heightened food’s tastiness. Again, salt had rightness.
When the salt was pure, it was not ruinous of anything—it was right—and it was beneficial to everything.
When the salt was impure—had lost its saltiness—it was good for nothing except to be cast out onto the road where nothing was to grow and where the salt was to be trodden upon.
I said character matters. Salt matters.
Salt is powerful. A “covenant of salt” is a covenant that absolutely may not be broken (for example, refer to the surroundings of 2 Chron 13:5 ESV).
Salt, in Latin, is salis. The importance of the Latin word is so great that it has appeared in English in unexpected ways. The Romans salted their greens, from which act we derive our word salad. The Romans sometimes paid their soldiers with salt, so valuable it was, from which act we derive the word salary.
The Jews recommended eating salt at the end of a meal, as a preventative of halitosis.
But then, in the typical Pharisaical manner of the rabbis, laws were added to that beneficial custom about which the rabbis could insist—or could chide when the laws were ignored. Jews must not eat their after-supper salt off their thumbs, for doing so causes the loss of children; nor off their little fingers, for doing so causes poverty; nor off their index finders, for doing so causes murder.
Only Jewish middle fingers and ring fingers would do for the eating of Jewish after–supper salt!
Much of the salt used in biblical times in Israel and Egypt came from the Dead Sea (also known as the Salt Sea). The purest of the salt—the kind that was most righteous—needed to be mined out of the land surrounding the Dead Sea. Easier to get, though, was the deposited salt that peppered the shore line.
Want some salt? Go pick it up along the shore.
This salt, however, was not as pure as the mined salt. The seashore salt was laden with other elements than sodium chloride, because it was the sun-dried distillation of sea water. Consequently, in practice, this dried seawater salt was “salt that had lost its saltiness”—and it was good for nothing much, in terms of righteousness, except to be scattered on the road to inhibit weed growth, for the same reason the Romans salted Carthage after they defeated that city—so it would stay dead.
You could say that salt that had lost its saltiness lied about its promise.
A salty man or woman does not lie. A salty man or woman is righteous. A salty man or woman is pure…and is durable, and loyal, and faithful, and permanent—and any of the other words biblically used as metaphorical with regard to salt.
Mark reports that Jesus said to His disciples, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
But notice this--
Yes, Jesus was speaking to His disciples, but Jesus is forever, and He is speaking to us ourselves today (Dikkon, this means you).
It’s not just the public liars who have ruined and are ruining our civilization today. Look into ourselves, readers, and pray for personal salt.