I have never been big on bland foods. I wouldn’t say that spicy stuff is ever my “go to” choice when I sit down for a meal, but I will admit that I do enjoy my food better when it is sprinkled with a dash of salt.
I don’t think I’m alone in that regard. As I’ve had conversations with people over the years that have had to forego salt for dietary reasons, to a person they have told me that giving it up and rewiring one’s taste buds accordingly has been some of the hardest work they’ve ever done.
Perhaps that is why salt is one of the most frequent metaphors in the Bible. Time and again Scripture speaks to the diminished quality of life whenever we behave toward others in tasteless ways. In our relationships as with our green beans, a little bit of salt goes a long, long way.
Unfortunately, we seem to be living in a day when people could stand a bit more taste in their interactions with one another; wouldn’t you agree? From the highest circles down to the lowest levels, relationships are deteriorating as folk seem to be in competition with one another to see who can act in the most disrespectful ways.
Growing up, when I would feel the need to act out like that, my mother would always threaten to wash my mouth out with soap. Of course, today that threat would probably be considered abuse. So, my suggestion is that instead of breaking out the soap, we pass around a bit of salt.
Here’s what that would look like: Withhold your judgments of others until you have taken the time to understand their context. Try to appreciate the good they possess, which you can usually find in someone else if you try hard enough. Understand that not everyone will see things as you do, and even be willing to humble yourself with the knowledge that in some situations, you will see things incorrectly (a painful lesson I have had to learn and re-learn over the years). Most of all, do your best to practice the dictum you have heard all your life: “If you can’t say something good about someone else, don’t say anything at all.” That really does help to make a tough situation more tasteful.
For Christians these maxims are more than pithy moralisms that make us feel superior to others. They are actually expressions of grace that give testimony to the possibilities that God sees in us and work to form the deep relationships that bind us together in the body of Christ. And ultimately, they will be the means by which we transform the structures of this fallen world into the contours of the Kingdom of Heaven so that mercy eventually becomes the order of the day and peace the end that each of us enjoys. Now, that’s the sort of taste I would think everyone could stand being left in his or her mouth.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50).