13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.My question upon reading this was, why did Jesus feel it necessary to give two different versions of what seems to be the same idea? They both seem to convey the idea of how the Lord’s covenant people are to be special and an example. I have heard explanations that salt on sacrifices is a symbol of the covenant, but for some reason I have a hard time grasping this association; it feels like the ideas are too far apart. (Maybe I just haven’t progressed to the point of getting it yet.)
14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (3 Nephi 12:13-16)
But back to the question of why both “salt of the earth” and “light of this people” were used. What is the same between them and what is different?
I noticed that these two metaphors involved different senses—taste and vision. Being a light to the eyes is like being an example. But taste is a bit trickier. Nonmembers don’t taste us…. Or do they? I remembered a verse from Job that I had noticed a long time ago.
Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? (Job 12:11)I went searching for more instances in the scriptures where “taste” is used and I found three other helpful verses.
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:103)In a sense, words can be tasted by the ear just like salt is tasted by the tongue. There is a special flavor and savor to the godly conversation of the Saints that is refreshing. Our words can impart gospel principles and a unique perspective of the world. As Paul said to the Colossians, our speech can be with grace (which the Bible Dictionary says is “enabling power”) that can edify and motivate and even help change lives. The savor of our words is instrumental in attracting people to the gospel and in teaching it.
Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things? (Job 6:30)
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:6)
So it seems that Jesus meant to use the metaphors of “salt of the earth” and “light of this people” to convey the ideas that both our words and our example help the world.
I know I really savor the words of faithful Latter-day Saints. I was trying to remember a particularly memorable experience I could share of savory words someone spoke and I realized how blessed I am to associate with so many members so often. I taste that savor in general conference. I taste it in the scriptures. I taste it in well-prepared church talks and lessons. I taste it in sincere prayers. I taste it in everyday conversation that is tinged with faith. I taste it on so many of your blogs.
I think a most recent example is in our relief society lesson on charity yesterday in which our instructor mentioned that she had realized that she needed to show her husband more charity by not bringing up past mistakes he had made. We all giggled a bit at this admission of hers, but there was a special savor in hearing her thoughts about it. I know I appreciated it because it motivated me to commit to being more forgiving of my husband too.
I also can’t help but give my mother credit for her savory words. In my upbringing she exemplified “salt of the earth.”
Can you tell me of an experience you had when the savor of someone’s words helped you?