7 Ways to Lose Our Saltiness as Disciples

This past weekend I continued our series on the Sermon on the Mount by exploring our “Real Identity” as the salt of the earth and the light of the world from Matthew 5:13-16. In verse 13, Jesus says, “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.” In our small group on Sunday afternoon, we discussed what it might mean to lose our saltiness. I’ve continued to think about this over the past few days and decided to compile a list of seven ways we can lose our saltiness as disciples. So, here we go.

Seven ways we can lose our saltiness as disciples:

  1. Stop reading Scripture. Scripture is a vital guide for the Christian life. It is “a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). When we stop reading Scripture, we can easily lose our way, thus faltering in the disciple-life. Without Scripture’s guidance we lose the salty savor of God’s life in and with us.
  2. Stop praying. If Scripture is the guide for our life as disciples, prayer is the lifeblood of our disciple-life. Prayer is our communication with God, but it is also the way in which we abide in Christ. The same way that branches abide in the vine, our discipleship is rooted in the life of God through prayer (John 15:1-17). If we want our lives saturated with the flavor and preservative of God’s life in us, then we must be people of prayer.
  3. Live so close to the world that no one can tell you’re a disciple. We sometimes talk of disciples as in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-15). While we understand that Paul wanted to become all things to all people so that he might bring people to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:20-22), this did not mean he hid his distinctiveness as a Christ follower. Salt becomes less salty by being diluted. So, too, if no one can tell we’re disciples of Christ, then we may be on the pathway of losing our saltiness.
  4. Lack integrity and Christlike character. Disciples of Jesus are called to look like Jesus. We are to resist sin and exhibit the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:13-26). Peter said that the godly behavior and character of disciples will lead people to an encounter with God (1 Peter 2:11-12). If our daily lives does not point to Christ, then we may lack saltiness.
  5. Never talk about Jesus. Jesus called His disciples to be witnesses to Him (Acts 1:8). While we want our lives to be a witness to Christ, we also want to give witness to Him with our mouths. If we never say a word about Jesus to anyone else, then we lack what Paul describes as grace-seasoned speech: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
  6. Think only about your own needs. We lose our saltiness when we stop thinking of others’ needs and only think of our own needs. When Jesus was asked how He would summarizeGod’s law, He said it was loving God with all of who we are and loving our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Salty disciples are aware of others’ needs, both material and spiritual, and reach out to care for those who are in need, both within the church community and beyond.
  7. Let other interests become more important than God and His kingdom. Just as love for neighbor is part of the summary of God’s law, so, too, is love for God for all of who we are—”all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). If people know more about the hobbies, sports teams, foods, political allegiances, causes, or even family we love, but never know our love for God, then there may be a lack of salt evident in our lives. Jesus said, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

You Are the Salt of the Earth

“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)

Salt is incredibly important for various reasons. It gives flavor for cooking. It serves as a preservative for food. Some salts are even important in agricultural fertilizer. Salt was incredibly important in Jesus’ time and it continues to be important in our time.

When I was traveling in sub-Saharan Africa, mining for salt near a natural salt lake continued to this day. The salt was bagged up and sent throughout the region as an important export of that specific area because salt is important and valuable.

In some ways, here in Jesus’ teaching, it is less important what salt does, and perhaps more important what salt is. Salt is salty. It has a salty impact upon the world around it. If it loses its saltiness, well, it really isn’t valuable as salt anymore. You might even wonder if it’s still salt. Jesus says such material will be thrown out and trampled underfoot. It might as well be sand.

In a similar manner, disciples should have an impact on the world around them. Like salt in all its various uses in the world—flavoring, preserving, fertilizing—disciples are to have an important impact on the world around them. What is that impact? Well, Jesus will expound on that in the later sections of the Sermon on the Mount, but we can give a shorthand definition like this:

Disciples of Jesus are to proclaim and embody the love of Jesus Christ wherever they are. They are to look like Jesus in their character, words, and actions.

And here in this specific example from Matthew 5:13, disciples should taste like the kingdom of God and bring that wonderful savor, preservative, and fruitfulness to the world.

Just like unsalty salt isn’t really salt anymore, so un-disciple-y disciples aren’t really disciples anymore. It’s nonsensical to be a non-disciple-y disciple. And disciples live like God in the world.

So, to these everyday people who have become disciples—and to us—Jesus says: “You’re in the Kingdom of God and part of My people. So live as salty disciples wherever you are. Just don’t lose your saltiness.”

Real Identity: You are Salt and Light

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series “Becoming Real” on the Sermon on the Mount by looking at Matthew 5:13-16.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…”  (Matthew 5:13, 14)

“You are…”

  • The disciples
  • The crowds
  • Who is the “you”?
  • The unexpected ones in God’s mission

Metaphor and the Power of Mental Pictures

  • Jesus’ use of metaphor in Matthew 5:13-16
  • Why mental pictures are invaluable for life

“You are the salt of the earth…” (5:13)

  • The importance of salt: flavor, preservative, fertilizer
  • Discipleship and saltiness
  • Warning: don’t lost your saltiness

“You are the light of the world…” (5:14-16)

  • The importance of light in a town and a house
  • Discipleship and light-shining
  • Encouragement: let your life shine to God’s glory

Wholistic or Complete Discipleship

  • Discipleship of being and resting
  • Discipleship of mission and action

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in one or more of the following ways:

  • Consider memorizing one or both of the images here: Matthew 5:13 or Matthew 5:14-16
  • Sketch, draw, or paint one of the images from this portion of Scripture. Share it with someone when you’re done to start a conversation about what it means to follow Jesus.
  • Consider reading Professor Anthony B. Bradley’s article on this passage, “You are the Manure of the Earth
  • Explore parallels to this passage from other parts of Scripture, writing your own comments and thoughts about how these illumine Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:
  • Isaiah 9:1-2
  • Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34
  • Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16
  • John 1:4-9
  • John 8:12
  • Acts 13:47
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • Philippians 2:14-16
  • Colossians 4:6
  • 1 Peter 2:11-12