This morning I'm thinking about salt. That's because I've been reading in Leviticus, and there I read that the burnt offerings are always to be seasoned with salt. And I wondered why. The NIV Study Bible footnote suggests that salt was costly, hard to come by, in that era. So to season the offering with salt is not only to add flavor, but to add a very costly flavor. Perhaps to demonstrate, thereby, the seriousness of the offer.
Let's say you have invited a passing traveler into your home to spend the night. Who knows, it may be an angel of light. It may be God himself, as happened to be the case with Abram. Do you take out the salt, which you'd perhaps been saving for a special day, a special meal, and do you offer the stranger a meal seasoned with this salt? Or do you say, I don't even know this man. I will probably never see him again. Why don't I save the salt for my own loved ones, my own people. Surely I have done enough by offering this man shelter and food. I'll save the salt for another day.
Jesus says that our very lives and our witness ought to have this kind of savor--the savor of an offering that has been seasoned with salt. Paul says, Let your words be always seasoned with salt. To offer salt is to treat with honor. It is a gesture of respect. Even of love. To offer the salt is to not hold back.
Once I read a book about some men who escaped from a Russian gulag. This was in the 1950s, I believe. They traveled southward on foot and made it all the way across the Tibetan plains, across the Himalayan mountains and down into India. Quite a trek. In Tibet they spent a night with a poor peasant woman. She lived in a hut and owned almost nothing, but she offered what she had to these ragged strangers. She made them tea and served them rice. Then she went to her cupboard and pulled out a jar. In the jar was something wrapped in a cloth. She laid this on the table proudly and unwrapped it for them. It was a solid chunk of salt. For her this was extremely valuable. It was really like gold. Once she ran out, there was no telling if she'd ever be able to get more, since she would have to wait for a caravan of traders to pass through, and that only happened once in a great while. So here was an offering of high honor. This was "entertaining strangers" as God Himself directs.
I want to think about salt a little more. I want to think about the reasons we might have to withhold the salt. I want to think about words and deeds that have no savor. About what they are, and what causes our lives and witness to lose that savor of salt. And I want to think about how we get the savor back. More later.