Yesterday I was trying to remove the ice from our front walk and thought of salt. We have a little strip of earth between the walk and the brick wall of our garage, and our horticulturalist neighbour suggested we plant New Guinea impatiens there next spring. But I’m not sure anything will grow there now, as the same salt I have used to melt the ice on the walk may have neutered the soil next to it.
Salt is mentioned a lot in the Bible–40 times or more. In Old Testament times, it was a precious commodity and even used to confirm covenants. The bodies of newborn babies were rubbed with salt to cleanse them and invigorate the tissue. Salt is the universal seasoning for food, and an effective preservative. But it has its dangers. Too much of it in the soil will prevent anything from growing, and too much in your blood will kill you.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5.13), Jesus told his disciples they were “the salt of the earth.” That was a good thing. He was speaking of the positive qualities of salt–it’s ability to heal, preserve, add zest and enhance flavour. Paul told the church at Colossae that their speech was always to be gracious and “seasoned with salt”, referring again to salt’s goodness.
But to be like salt on the earth is not a good thing at all, and sometimes we can be like Abimelech in Judges 9, who attacked Shechem and then “razed the city and sowed it with salt.” (Jud 9.45) He did to Shechem deliberately what I may be doing to our flower bed unintentionally.
Spiteful attitudes, biases, lack of concern, hatred, condescension, anger, neglect–all of these can be like the sowing of salt on other people’s lives. Instead of enhancing and invigourating them, we can actually prevent their growth.
Gotta watch those prepositions.