HE NEVER SAID, “YOU ARE THE PEPPER OF THE EARTH”
In our Gospel lesson for February 5th, Jesus said an amazing thing about those who believe in Him and are following Him. “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5: 13) Notice He did not say, “You are the pepper of the earth.”
Why did Jesus not say, “You are the pepper of the earth”? My experience is that pepper has a way of drawing attention to itself. Pepper says, “Hey, that’s me you are tasting. Aren’t I wonderful?” While salt, if applied to food in the right amount, does not draw attention to itself. Rather salt brings out the flavor – brings out the best – of that which it salts.
In the first several verses of Matthew 6 Jesus talks about people who make a big display of their piety, their giving, and their praying. His description of them is, “They do it in order to be seen by and praised by others.” They do it to look good, to get noticed, to draw attention to themselves. They are like pepper – not salt. They are as-sault-ing people with themselves. Instead Jesus said, “Do your giving and your praying in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 4 and 6)
Reminds me of the time in Mark 12 when Jesus was watching people putting money into the temple treasury. Mark tells us that many rich people put in large sums. I get the sense that they wanted other people to see how much they were giving. They were like pepper.
In contrast a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins. Together they were worth a penny. She was like salt. Jesus called His disciples’ attention to her gift, because it represented a true sacrifice. It was a tremendous expression of how much she loved God and how deeply she believed that God could and would take care of her. Her gift did not draw attention to her, the giver. Rather it drew attention to God, the provider. May your witness draw people’s attention to God and show people that He is good and that He can be trusted to provide for all of their needs.
What else does salt do? In ancient times, before refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food. For many years Lutheran CORE has worked to maintain a high view of the authority of the Bible, orthodox and confessional Christian theology, and a traditional Biblical perspective on such issues as human sexuality. Thank you for joining with us in seeking to be a preservative – a force that works to maintain and even nurture a Christian worldview and Christian values in a society and culture that is rapidly deteriorating.
And then one more thing. Salt in a body of water will make a person or object able to float in that water. Think of the Great Salt Lake in Utah or the Dead Sea in Israel. May your witness to Jesus Christ help people maintain a buoyancy in life. May it give them a lift. And may the way that you handle the challenges, setbacks, and disappointments of life demonstrate to others the truth of what Paul wrote in Philippians 4: 13 – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE