Worth your salt

Read: Numbers 30-31, Mark 9:30-50

Little Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan has a mineral density three-times that of the oceans. Who cares? Well, what this means is that, unless you intentionally put your head under water and breathe in, you can’t drown. The water is so dense, a human being can float with no effort at all. The high mineral—salt—concentration in the lake (and spa where the lake water is piped in) has disinfectant and healing properties. It is only one of three inland bodies of water on the planet that has such properties (the Dead Sea being another). It’s rare. It’s special. It’s worth taking note.

Mark 9-50.jpg

Many of us might read through this little verse and just assume that Jesus wants us to be flavourful, add a little spice to the world around us. That’s what salt is for, after all. And that little part about being at peace with each other, just a nice little add-on. The complexity and weight of this verse is completely lost on us if we don’t understand the cultural connotations of salt at the time Jesus said these words.

  1. Salt was valuable. When you start a new job you settle on what? A salary. Ever wonder where that word originated from? You’d better be worth your salt or you won’t be keeping that job. Some speculate that, because of it’s high value in the Roman empire, that soldiers were often paid in salt. Roads were built because of salt. Trades were made because of salt. Lives were made or lost because of salt.
  2. Salt healed. Like patrons of Little Lake Manitou, the Romans were also aware of the healing properties of salt. Drinking a saltwater solution could reset the digestive system. Soaking an open wound in saline could help prevent swelling and infection.
  3. Salt preserved. While the term pickled didn’t arrive on the scene for centuries, the concept of preserving food with salt was not lost on the Roman empire. Salty olives were as much a part of the Mediterranean diet then as they are now.
  4. Salt was considered holy. Since Leviticus 2:13, salt was a part of Jewish sacrificial offerings. No sacrifice was to be made without it.
  5. Salt declared covenant. In both Jewish and Roman cultures, sharing salt at a table was indicative of covenant or servitude. For the Romans, to eat salt from the table of another put you in their service. For the Jews, to share bread with salt was a sign of covenant between those who share the meal.

When we take into account the historical significance of salt, this verse is so much more than a little platitude for us to remember. Whether in food or water, the presence of salt is undeniable. Imagine a society without salt. Imagine your life without salt? It’s impossible. As trivial as those little granules may seem, they are an essential part of our lives.

Now take that idea and apply it to believers.

Everything that salt was to society when Jesus walked this planet, we should still be to our culture today. Believers should add value, no matter where we are. We should bring healing. We should preserve those things that are good and helpful and nourishing to every life. We should be set apart as holy. And we should share a covenant not only with God, but with each other. Our lives should be set apart for service to the Father and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Suddenly this verse isn’t so little and that last bit about being at peace with each other means a little more.

Are you worth your salt?

Weak

You’ve probably had a lot of experiences that many people don’t know about. You’ve done things, been places, seen people. Much of which could probably bring you up a few rungs on the ladder of worth when it comes to what others think about you. But is all of that really worthwhile? Is it really of value to boast about all those things if they are of no eternal value?

I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it. I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life and in my message.

2 Corinthians 12:6 (NLT)

If it doesn’t further our ministry or our message, is it really worth boasting about? We shouldn’t have to rely on the opinions of others for validation. All the validation we will ever need is found in Christ. Besides, the worse off we are, the more Christ is able to do in our lives.

Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

The world would have us believe that weakness makes us, well, weak. But it doesn’t have to. If we are always strong, we never have reason to lean on God. We never have the need to call on the name of Jesus. But in our weakness, when we must rely on our Creator, He makes us strong. He works in and through us. This is the life and the message Paul is talking about.

We shouldn’t have to boast about what God has done because people should be able to see what God is doing. If you’re always talking about what God did in the past, is there even room for Him in the present? There is no shame in weakness because, if Christ is in us, he has already taken our shame upon himself. As for the insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is our through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35, 37 (NLT)

If you must boast, boast in that. That, no matter what life or the devil may throw at you, you belong to Christ. You are his, he is yours. Go ahead, be weak. Let Christ show his strength through you.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 1-3, 2 Corinthians 12

Unfailing love

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love
as we worship in your Temple.

Psalm 48:9 (NLT)

Just as this verse says, today let’s meditate on God’s unfailing love. First, let’s take a look at what it means to meditate.

MEDITATE: To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.

We talk about God’s love a lot, but how often do we really take the time to think about what that means? What is love?

LOVE: An affection of the mind excited by beauty and worth of any kind, or by the qualities of an object which communicate pleasure, sensual or intellectual.

God sees beauty and worth in us—even when we don’t. We bring Him pleasure. We are beautiful. We are worthy. Those are phrases we hear all the time in church, and again, do we really think about what that means? Or have those terms become a part of our Christian rhetoric? God’s love for us isn’t determined by how others perceive us or how we feel when we get up on a particular morning. His love is unfailing.

UNFAILING: Not liable to fail; not capable of being exhausted.

God’s love for us will never stop. It will never run out. It will never reach it’s limit.

With these things in mind, take some time to reflect on some other verses about God’s love.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (NLT)

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

Psalm 33:5 (NLT)

It’s easy to toss around a word like love and simply forget the true depths of its meaning. We know in our minds that God loves us, but often have a more difficult time transferring that knowledge from our intellect to our hearts, our spirits. God loves us simply because we are His creation, made in His own image and likeness.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

This is the God we serve. The God we love. The God who loves us with unfailing love all because it gives Him joy and pleasure to do so.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 47-49, Acts 26

Valuable

What determines the value of your life? Is it how much money you make or how much stuff you have? Is it the quality of your education and the job you have? Is it how much you give to the poor and needy? What is it that makes life worth something if it is even worthy anything at all?

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Paul considered all but three years of his life to be worthless—the only years that held value were the ones he used to obey the call of God on his life.

Like Paul, we’ve all been given the same assignment—the Great Commission as described in Mark 16:15. But what about everything else? Not everyone can (or should) go into full time ministry. How do we know what else to do with our lives to make them worthwhile? How do we know what to do to give our lives worth?

Who else can we get advice from than the man after God’s heart? David certainly knew where guidance came from.

Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.

Psalm 25:12 (NLT)

God’s call on our lives doesn’t simply appear out of thin air the moment we accept Christ as Savior. It takes time. It takes a relationship. It takes trust.

Our value and worth in life are derived from our relationship with God and our obedience to His leading. My call isn’t your call and your call isn’t your sister’s call. While we’ve all been given certain instructions as Christians, the how, when, and where may vary. Determining those factors can only come through your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is where trust and dependence on God comes in.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all those who keep his covenant and obey his decrees.

Psalm 25:10 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 25-27, Acts 20:17-38

Worthless

Where do you find your worth? Do you feel as though you have any worth at all? If you don’t, where do you go looking for worth?

These are all huge questions we all face every day whether we realise it or not. And, the fact of the matter is, most people are looking for worth in all the wrong places. Our worth isn’t in our perfect weight or appearance. It’s not in our work or our family. It’s not in our friends or relationships.

Our worth is found in our worship. What you worship will determine your worth.

They rejected the laws and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshipped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They followed the examples of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

2 Kings 17:15 (NLT)

There is a very valid reason why God wanted Israel to completely annihilate the previous residents of the Promised Land—He knew that His people were easily swayed and that, if any evil remained, Israel would fall prey to it. So what did Israel do? They let a bunch of the previous residents stay. And what happened? Israel fell into the worship of pagan gods and idols. Their worth dwindled as they drew away from God.

Today, we all search for worth. Who doesn’t want to be valued? So we dress up, do our makeup, work out, find the perfect man or woman to walk beside us, dress up our kids so they make us look better, work at the high class job and drive the nice car. So why do we still keep searching for worth? Could it be that all those things we worship as good and valuable really hold no value at all?

We can only find our true worth when we set our worship on the only One who is worth anything at all.

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NLT)

Your own search for worth can begin and end with Jesus. Nothing else that you can focus your attention on can fulfill your need to be something or someone. It’s all empty. Worthless. But who could make you feel more valuable than the one who created you?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT)

Nothing is more precious to a craftsman than his own masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece. In His eyes, you are valuable. You are worthy. You are His creation. You are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 15-17, John 6:1-21