Keith and I have differing opinions about salt. He adds it to everything, copiously. I add it to some things all the time and others seldom, and usually just a mere sprinkle. Since his stroke a few years ago, he has become a little more moderate, cutting his amounts by using serious quantities of black pepper instead.
In the summer he must worry less about it. We live in Florida, which means on a summer afternoon he will come in from the garden soaking wet, with his pant hems literally dripping sweat, and even pouring it out of shoes. He stays hydrated with a gallon of water sitting in the shade of a nearby oak, usually a gallon before lunch and another afterward. On those days, he doesn’t worry about how much salt he puts on his platter of sliced garden tomatoes in the evening.
Just out of curiosity I looked up the dietary salt requirement. Considering how much you hear about the evils of salt, I was surprised. Did you know that too little in your diet can affect your moods and even cause depression? It is also the reason for some falls in the elderly. They wind up with hyponatremia, which causes dizziness and balance issues. Low salt diets can lead to Type 2 diabetes by impairing insulin sensitivity. None of this gives us the green light to consume too much salt, but maybe we should check where we stand with our doctors on these issues before cutting out too much of it.
In all that study I also found a list of special uses for salt. We all know that salt is a food preservative. I also use it as a gargle for sore throats. I hate doing it, but it works. These other things I have not tried, so take them with, ahem, a grain of salt.
Sprinkle salt on the shelves in your pantry to keep away the ants.
Soak freshly caught fish in salt water to make scaling them easier.
A pinch of salt in egg whites will make them beat up fluffier.
A dash of salt in gelatin will cause it to set faster.
Clean greens in salt water for easier dirt removal.
Pour salt on an ink-stained carpet and leave overnight. It will soak up the stain.
Pour salt on sidewalk cracks to kill weeds and grass.
Then I looked up salt in the scriptures and got another education.
Ezek 16:4 mentions rubbing a newborn with salt. For some that symbolized cleansing. For the Eastern cultures at large, it was thought to make the infant’s skin firm.
Ex 30:35 and Lev 2:13 tell us that God required salt on his sacrifices. Salt was considered the opposite of leavening (so much for the notion that no salt should be used in unleavened bread), and it signified both the purity and faithfulness required to worship Jehovah, and Jehovah’s enduring love for his people.
And that led to the “covenants of salt” mentioned in places like Num 18:19 and 2 Chron 13:5. God’s covenant with his people was considered perpetual.
So now you see why I started looking at Col 4:6 a little differently. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person. Usually I hear, “Salt makes things sweeter, so be sweet and kind when you talk with someone.” That is truly a one-dimensional explanation. Yes, salt can make a tasteless melon taste sweeter. Even the ancients knew that (Job 6:6). One of the classic combinations in Italian cooking is prosciutto, a salty ham, thinly sliced and wrapped around melon wedges. Yet if there is no sugar in the food, the salt can hardly make it taste sweeter. The correct statement is that salt brings out whatever flavors are present in the first place.
And what about the other aspects of salt associated with that culture, purification, preservation, faithfulness, and perpetuality? That verse in Colossians indicates that my answer may change according to circumstance, “that you may know how to answer each person.” Can the words I choose help purify a sinner? Can they show my faithfulness to God when I am questioned by an unbeliever? Can they tell others that I know my God will always be there for me and that is why I will always be there for him, regardless how they treat me? Absolutely, and some of those words might not be particularly sweet.
Salt, on occasion, stings. So does God’s grace when it offers me things I do not want to hear in my present circumstances, so my “graciousness” to others may well have them smarting when it comes “out of season”—a time they do not want to hear it. In fact, since salt can only enhance what is already there, perhaps it is the hearer who determines how sweet my words are in the first place.
God’s Word is simple enough for anyone to understand it on the surface, but remember that if you apply yourself, you can dig deeper into more layers than in any book written by a man. Salt, for instance, can flavor your studies for a good while.
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet, Matt 5:13.