Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Character

13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage."
(Matthew 5:13)

22-24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
(James 1:22-24)

In the days of the pioneers, salt was a basic "staple" of life.  It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything.  It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared.  Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to sour lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

Did you know that the "salt-taste" is one of the basic "tastes" that we can sense?  There are four basic "tastes" that the human tongue can interpret - sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness.  Take in something that is too salty and you will immediately form a desire for hydration - you want to drink because salt has the function of assisting in the "water-balance" of your body. Too much or too little salt in your diet affects you with dizziness, muscle cramping, neurological problems, and even death.  So, having the right "balance" of salt in our system is important to our good health.

When Jesus spoke of being "salt-seasoning" that brings out the God-flavors of the earth, he was describing the purpose that salt has in being a flavor-enhancer.  If you have ever had to restrict your sodium intake for any length of time, you will know how much you can "crave" just a little salty snack!  Your body has a use for salt, so when it is restricted too much, it craves it.  The same is true in a spiritual sense - if the "saltiness" of our character is not doing its work on this earth, life is dull!

According to the "Salt Institute" there are about 14,000 known uses for salt!  If we explore just a few, we might see why Jesus tells us not to lose our "savor" on this earth.

1)  When added to water on the stove, it functions to allow the water to come to a higher cooking temperature, thus reducing the cooking time required for the food being prepared.  Maybe Jesus is challenging us to be salt on this earth because the time is short!

2)  When you add two teaspoons of salt to a cup of water, a fresh egg will rise to the top and an older egg will sink to the bottom.  This doesn't mean the egg is rotten - just that it is more "mature".  Maybe Jesus was challenging us to reveal the spiritual maturity of those we associate with in community.

3)  When you don't want freshly cut fruit to lose its color, turning brown on the cut edges, you quickly dip them in a salt water bath and drain.  Maybe Jesus was reminding us that we have the ability to keep things fresh - allowing the "true colors" of this world to be seen.

4)  When you want to keep a "cured" cast iron skillet clean, but not damage its "curing process", you clean it by rubbing salt on the pan's surface to remove the excess grease.  This is one of the uses that the pioneers had for salt.  Maybe Jesus was giving us the wisdom to be able to touch lives without damaging them!

5)  When you add salt to your wash-water, it functions to brighten your colors. Maybe Jesus was showing us that we actually bring "new life" to old things just by being "salt".

Just a few ideas on the ways that we might be "salt" on this earth - bringing out the God-flavor for all to enjoy!