“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
– Matthew 5:13
In the ancient world salt was as much a preservative as it was a flavour enhancer. It was hard to harvest, although accessible in coastal locations or salt pans, but less so in most desert or mountainous regions. It was valuable. It was expensive. Jesus’ encouragement to his disciples is that they would be the salt of the earth. It is interesting to think that this expression is two thousand years old. “Salt of the earth” people are those who are valuable to others, who are not only down to earth, but reliable, helpful, who bring out the best in others, who serve, who are selfless and straightforward, who bring out the flavour, who preserve the good, who stop things going off or getting worse. Some might argue that at various times, Jesus’ followers have either lost their saltiness, or have been overbearingly salty. Jesus encourages us to enhance the flavour of our world, to bring out the best in those around us, lest we be considered useless or good for nothing. His words are encouraging, but they contain a barb, as Jesus’ words often do.
Three other ideas, also about the way we live our lives, have been on my mind this week. American writer and investor Nir Eyal said, “Lots of things in life are not your fault, but they are still your responsibility”. May we be those who are alive to this truth and willing to shoulder responsibility in a way that supports, encourages, and helps ourselves and others, and in a way that leads us all to a bigger and brighter vision of what is to come. In lots of ways, society has atomised, and with it, the idea of responsibility. We need more people who are prepared to be solution-focused, irrespective of the cause of the problem. We are fortunate in seeing more and more students adopt this mindset and maturity in approach.
William Carey wrote, “I’m not afraid of failure. I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter”. In noting this, he encourages us to keep the bigger picture in mind. He gives us the freedom to pursue the best and biggest goals, and to understand that a rough or rocky path in the right direction is better than a smooth path that heads the wrong way.
Paulo Coelho said that “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision”. May we be willing to acknowledge our mistakes and not let them become entrenched. May we be willing to take responsibility for when things go wrong. May we be reflective in a way that gives us, and those around us, the chance to grow and change.