I used to wonder what it is God wanted from us. Is it merely to wake up each morning daring to fulfill each day to day task and appointments we set for ourselves? Or, does life hold a key ingredient that can shape who we are? Jesus calls His followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” We are enriched with goodness that can be transformed and distributed in many ways. If we are the salt, what else can blend with what we already are to make us better? Pepper turns something from bland into something bold revealing the goodness.
Both spices are capable of standing alone. They can start off as light and subtle, or end with overbearing and toxic.
For instance, I remember a time when my husband would pepper everything he cooked. I’d nearly be drooling from the aroma of the dish. With fork in hand, I aimed for the bigger bite. Chewing seemed unnecessary as the texture was quit smooth and cheesy. However, my third and fourth bite sparked a momentous twitch. I gasped for air, as the burning of my throat induced a cough. The more air I breathed in the heavier the heat. I continued to gasp wiping my tear filled eyes. With tremendous thirst I reached for any kind of liquid, some hope of relief. His apology was sincere, but to hear him say, “Was that too much?” put me in a mood to spike his beverage into a salt frenzy.
Although my incident was extreme, pepper often acts as the wow factor, that hidden ingredient that pushes the quality above the rest, a sudden height of awareness that makes you want more. As salt is our foundation for goodness and righteousness, pepper indicates the level of intensity, the passion with which God designed us.
How is it that we can choke on something that is made to be good?
We trick ourselves into serving our own needs instead of serving others. In Jesus’ words, “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” If we turn from being the salt of the earth we corrupt what was designed to be good. If we become too intense we lose the interest of others.
In my own trials, I’ve witnessed Jesus’ words come to life. A few years ago, I had to work with a woman who recently transferred to my location. She appeared friendly and helpful, and she would often crack jokes. After two weeks she became bitter, cynical about the others we worked with including me. She didn’t like the idea of being there, simply because it wasn’t her choice to work at this location. The weeks went on and the complaining grew worse and I suddenly became the target of her unhappiness. I didn’t like it, but I figured God had a purpose. If I were to be the salt of the earth I would have to practice it. That meant in all her cynicism that I would have to show her what it means to serve others. In all her complaining I would have to show kindness. And in all her contempt I would have to push forward in the name of righteousness. Weeks went by and she would exchange a few kind words. A couple more months went by and she would address me with questions. Weeks later she allowed me to help her. Eventually, I too would be transferred from that location to another. On my last day, she congratulated me on my promotion and wished me success. I had seen her heart change and mine grow.
Although her behavior mirrored that of a strong coarse pepper—it was my willingness to exercise love, kindness and compassion that set our relationship onto a new path.
We are given the foundations, the ingredients to mix and match and to what degree we see fit. The difficult part is to combine the two so it may be well received and preparing a combination that is fitting to each individual that takes part in watching its display.
Our lives are more than just waking up. Our day to day tasks should be coated by the salt of the earth and enriched with the boldness of pepper. We may not always know how the combination will turn out, but the first step to success is to make sure we try.
NIV-Mathew 5: 13
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