Salt That Loses Its Savour
Matthew 5:13- You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
IV Kings 2:19-22- And the men of the city (Jericho) said to Eliseus: Behold the situation of this city is very good, as thou, my lord, seest: but the waters are very bad, and the ground barren. And he said: Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it. And when they had brought it, He went out to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt into it, and said: Thus saith the Lord: I have healed these waters, and there shall be no more in them death or barrenness. And the waters were healed unto this day, according to the word of Eliseus, which he spoke.
Eliseus went to Jericho, and the men of that city told Eliseus that the situation of that city was pleasant, but the water was bad and the land barren. It was a wonderful city. There were many beautiful gardens, remarkable buildings, colleges and schools in it, and many other wonderful things besides. But the one thing that was essential for life was not there: the water was bad.
Water is an essential thing for our life. You can live without good buildings. You can even go without food for days together. But you cannot live without water for long. This beautiful city with bad water, barren ground and no fruit, is an apt picture of what man is today! The appearance is pleasant, but the heart is bad. Outwardly they are so beautiful, they wear nice clothes, they have good manners, they have many degrees, and they have good houses. But the one thing that is essential - eternal life - they do not have. That is what we see all around in the world today - and not in the world only, but also in the churches.
Where did Eliseus hear these words spoken to him? In Jericho! Jericho was the place where God's power had once been manifested. Jericho was a very strong city with walls all around it. When Joshua came with the children of Israel to this city, its walls had fallen flat. At that time God's power had been manifested in Jericho. But now 500 years later, there was no power of God in that city. Now the land had become barren and fruitless.
Similarly, 2000 years ago God's power was manifested mightily in His church. Since then there have been times when God revealed that power again. But what do we see today in the Catholic Church? The situation seems pleasant, but the water of life is bad. And this is exactly what the Lord said would be the condition in this world during the last days.
Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.(Revelation 3: 17)
What is God's remedy for this bad water? What is God's remedy for this barren land? What is God's remedy for the barrenness in your life and mine? What is the way in which pure rivers of living water can flow out of us? You will find the answer in (IV Kings 2:20) "Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it."
This has been the subject of our meditation today: "Ye are the salt of the earth".
God's remedy for a barren world and for fruitlessness in the church is, "Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it."
God wants new vessels that are full of salt. The salt was cast into the waters and the Lord said, "I have healed these waters, and there shall be no more in them death or barrenness." (IV King 2:21).
The diseased, fruitless land was healed. What we need today is the healing of the land....that is we need a healing of the Church. How was it healed? It was healed by salt being poured out on it from a new vessel. But I want to tell you that it was good salt. If it had been salt that had lost its savour, it would not have healed that land.
How do we get the savour back?
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.
Here the Lord tells us how the land can be healed. If we are like salt that has lost its savour, we must fulfill the four conditions given in this verse. Then we can regain that savour and the land will be healed.
I. We must convert.
(Matthew 18:3) Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Part of of being converted is humbling ourselves by becoming little children.
This is very difficult, not only for unbelievers, but for believers too.
Scripture says in Philippians 2:5-8, "For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" You may ask, "How far do I have to humble myself?" This Scripture portion tells us that we must humble ourselves as much as the Lord Jesus Christ did. Have you humbled yourself as much as that? That is the first condition for the salt to regain its savour, as you can see in Matthew 5:3 also, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
II. We must pray
The second condition that we see in this verse is that we must pray.
We talk a lot about prayer, but we actually pray very little. I believe that very often we do not pray because we do not believe that the Lord will answer. If we really believed that God answers prayer, our prayer-life would be changed completely. Saint John the Beloved said, "And this is the confidence which we have towards him: That, whatsoever we shall ask according to his will, he heareth us. And we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask: we know that we have the petitions which we request of him." (I John 5:14-15).
It says here in this verse, "And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me". It is no use coming for prayer if we are not converted and humbled in our hearts. Let me warn you that we will get some big surprises at the judgment seat of Christ. The poor, humble brothers whom many despise today, may be right in the front line, on that day. So remember, beloved, it will be no use praying, if we have not first humbly been converted.
III. Seeking out God's face
The third condition in this verse is that we must seek out God's face.
I wonder if we do this. Very often we seek a lot of other things, such as better jobs, better houses, good husbands or good wives (with plenty of money), and so on. But we do not seek God's face. David says in Psalm 26:4, "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the beauty of the Lord, and may visit his temple."
David was a great king. He was rich, he had won many battles and he had a great reputation. Yet he said, "I am not satisfied. One thing I have asked of the Lord. It is not that I should become the king of the whole world, or that I should become a great expositor, or that I should become very famous. But one thing I have asked of the Lord that I may behold the beauty of my Lord, and that all my life I may keep on beholding more and more of His beauty". Is that the one desire of our lives also?
IV. Do penance for our wicked ways
Now the fourth condition in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is that we must do penance for our wicked ways.
There might be many wicked ways in our lives. We might be very proud and perhaps that is why so often we misunderstand other people, and spend so much time criticizing them. God has given us a tongue to glorify His Name, but we misuse it very often in unkind criticism. Perhaps we have bitterness in our hearts against certain brothers and sisters. We might not show that bitterness outwardly, but all the same it is there in our hearts. Or perhaps we might be harbouring jealousy in our hearts. Now these are all ways belonging to the Evil One.
Sometimes we tell lies. What is a lie? You might not say anything with your mouth. But even if you do something to give a wrong impression to another, that also is a lie. If you make other people think that you are holier than you really are, that also is a lie, and an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Thus there are many wicked ways, which we might not recognize as such. For instance, we might neglect meditating on the Word of God, or attending Mass (Hebrews 10:25).
Sometimes the duties in the home are neglected. The Bible says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it. There is no limit to the love that Christ has for the church. In the same way, there should he no limit to the love of husbands for their wives. But, very often it is not so. That is why the salt has lost its savour. Again the Word of God says, Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. That means that just as the church is fully subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands. This is not to be done in a spirit of slavery, but in love. But sometimes, wives do not feel like doing that. Thus the salt has lost its savour.
The Word of God says, "And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord". Yet, how many children of believers there are today, who are walking in the ways of the world! Why is this so? Because the parents have never taught them the correction of the Lord. They have taught their children good manners and given them good education and good clothes to wear, but have never taught them to fear the Lord. That is why, later on, after the children have grown up, the parents are full of regrets. By then it has become too late to discipline their children. The salt has lost its savour.
The Word of God further says, Children, obey your parents. Some children think that they have become too old to obey their parents. But we read in Luke 2:51, that the Lord Jesus Christ was subject unto Mary and Joseph.
So you see how many wicked ways there could be in us. That is why we are like the salt that has lost its savour, and the land is not healed. That is why the water is bad and the ground remains barren.
Now back to our story of Eliseus:
He could have taken the salt in his hands and poured it out. But he did not do that. He took a new vessel, filled it with salt, and then poured out the salt on the waters. The land and the waters were healed at once. God grant that we might be willing to become vessels fit for the Master's use, emptied of all the things of this world and filled with Christ.
There is just one more thing that I want you to notice here. After filling the vessel with salt, Eliseus did not let the salt remain in the vessel - he poured it out.
God fills your life and mine, only in order that we might be poured out in service to others. We might have been asking God for a long time to fill us with the Holy Spirit, and to give us one spiritual blessing or another. But perhaps, we have been asking for these things with a very selfish reason. God will not fill us with His heavenly salt, so that we might go around showing-off to others how spiritual we are.
We read about the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 53:12, that He delivered His soul unto death. Because of that your sins and mine can be forgiven today. We should also be willing to be delivered unto death to self in the service of others. Otherwise the land will never be healed. The Lord does not want us to be water-tanks filled with water. He wants us to be channels through which the rivers of living water can flow out to others. God is looking for vessels of that kind - those who are willing to be poured out.
The eyes of the Lord run to and fro, throughout the whole earth, looking for vessels like that. It does not matter if you are not educated. We do not read anything about education in 2 Chronicles 7:14. It does not matter even if you have never been to school a single day of your life. It does not matter even if you are the poorest man in the whole world, or the most foolish. God is not looking for these things at all. He is not looking for Bible-knowledge or for diplomas from Bible Schools. He is looking for something else.
He says, "And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land."
It does not matter who you are. There is no respect of persons with God. If you are willing to fulfill these conditions and be poured out for others, then whoever you may be, God will use you.