Scripture Study

What It Means to Be the “Salt of the Earth”

I love homemade bread. There is nothing in this world quite like a hot piece of bread that was just taken out of the oven. A few months ago, I made my wheat bread, cut myself a piece, lathered it with butter and honey, took a big bite, and…it was awful.

I looked over the recipe and realized I had left out the salt! I’d forgotten the ONE tablespoon of salt that it called for, and now my four loaves of bread were bland and flavorless. I thought it was pretty incredible that such a small amount of salt could make such a big difference.

In the Old Testament we learn that the Israelite priests would season their offerings with salt (see Leviticus 2:13). In fact, salt was such a significant part of these offerings that the phrase “covenant of salt” was used in the Old Testament (see Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5) to signify the preservative or enduring nature of covenants made with the Lord.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ takes the salt comparison even further in the Sermon on the Mount:

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)

The Savior repeats this in the Americas in the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 12:13) and yet again to Joseph Smith (see Doctrine & Covenants 101:39-40).

This is a pretty familiar scripture, but what does it really mean? Let’s look at the word “salt”:

  • Salt is a preservative
  • Our bodies need salt to survive
  • Salt adds flavor (like my ruined wheat bread…argh.)

As we keep our covenants with God, we are preserved from the wickedness of the world, we are literally saved from spiritual death, and with God’s help we develop our own special flavor to add to the world!

Perhaps most importantly, salt does not lose its savor with age—this happens only when it is mixed and contaminated. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are different from the world. We read our scriptures and pray daily, we attend church and fulfill our callings, we attend the temple, and do countless other small and simple things. And through all of this, we are striving to keep the covenants that we have made with God. As we are doing these things, we are little by little, changing our natures to become more like Christ. As we do this, we are adding our unique flavor to an otherwise bland world. We are adding truth.

But just as we slowly grow closer to the Savior through our daily decisions, we can slowly lose our savor when we mix with things of the world. There are many ways that this can happen: Gossiping, wasting our time, and forgetting the importance of small gospel things are just a few that Satan hits hard on—especially with latter-day women. When this happens, we are not only limiting the blessings that we can receive, but we are limiting the light that we can shine and share!

We are different, so we must act differently! Our lives need to reflect the covenants that we have made and by doing so, we will be enriching our own personal flavor.

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