We often hear about icy roads being “salted” to melt away the freeze, but what about icy people? Does salt work on them? If so, we’d all do well to carry a can of Morton’s around because the world is full of frozen hearts.
I used to travel to Manhattan about once a year. First, New York City is one of this southern gal’s favorite places in the world. Second, contrary to rumor, New Yorkers are very friendly people. On one particular trip, though, I met a street vendor who qualified as the female version of Mr. Freeze. Oh, she was cold--and acted like I requested a seven course meal instead of a simple Mountain Dew.
Honestly, she was so testy, I really wanted to rear up like the Southern Queen of Steele Magnolias, shake that Dew and pop the can open right under her nose. Instead, as I dug around in my purse for loose change, I carried on a cheerful commentary about my messy bag and how my husband swears that’s where they’ll eventually find Jimmy Hoffa.
Well, her cold exterior began to crack. She managed a smile and then another, finally giving up a laugh that matched the deep gusto of a choir from the Land of Cotton belting out “Dixie.” She wished me a wonderful day and said the Mountain Dew was free.
I guess this was one example of salt melting ice, or a pleasant attitude winning over one that got up on the wrong side of the bed. It doesn’t always work and some people really do deserve a blast of Dew Spew, but I’m a believer in at least trying to shake a little salt onto someone’s plate.
Among its many uses, salt makes a good antiseptic and cleanser--so maybe the compliment we offer a grumpy co-worker will help heal his outlook with encouragement. Because salt thoroughly permeates what it touches, perhaps the rude cashier we’ve “salted” with kindness will in turn salt someone else with a positive word or deed.
When you study the properties of salt, it’s easy to understand why Jesus wants us to be “the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13 NIV) Besides the uses I’ve already mentioned, salt is a preservative that keeps corruption at bay. As followers of Christ, we have His words and the Holy Spirit to help us from succumbing to worldly influences and the temptations of the flesh. We can also preserve the ways of Christ through our actions, words and attitudes.
When our lives are seasoned with the salt of Christ, we’re in the position to encourage, inspire and uplift those we come in contact with, even those who seem as frozen as the tundra. Granted, some human icicles will never be warmed, much less melted, by any amount of salt, but some will be.
Now, being salty doesn’t mean we’re doormats. Some people do need a reality check, stood up to, and have a shaker of tough love dumped all over them. Jesus certainly brought things into the open, held people accountable and requested explanations for behavior that was out-of-line. If a situation so calls, we might need to do the same, but we’re instructed to render our words in ways that glorify Christ--“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6 NIV)
Remember, too, that salt improves the flavor of things and creates a craving for more. Do we exhibit the kindness, compassion, encouragement, joy and generosity that melts the ice, or do we harbor judgmental, self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitudes that only promote continued refrigeration for the frozen?
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said that when salt loses its saltiness it’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. We can understand this by withholding salt from our favorite salted foods. They’re not good at all and we probably won’t want them. So it is when our lives and attitudes are missing the salt of Christ. Who would want to be like us?
Let’s be filled with the salt our Lord can use--and be prepared to shake it the next time we encounter a big freeze.