Salt for the Earth: Folks and Followers

Salt for the Earth: Folks and Followers February 15, 2023

Large Salt Flat
(Shujianyang/Wikimedia Commons)

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13)

Like so many of the Savior’s teachings, this seemingly simple statement, based on an everyday aspect of His people’s lives, is not about salt, but about people. Salt for the earth represents a commandment, a characterization, and a covenant.

Salt for Preparation

In Christ’s time, some necessities began with salt.


People used salt for preparing the soil to plant. Too much salt would destroy the soil, but the right amount would enrich it.1

As the parable of the sower taught, stony ground lacking earth meant no depth. Shallow seeds and shallow people do not have roots needed to grow; they are easily uprooted.

 Ground containing thorns choked out seeds. Thorny ground and thorny, distracted people do not do well with spiritual matters—too many worldly issues to deal with.

Good ground, carefully prepared with salt, would nourish seeds. Christ needs well prepared ground and well prepared followers.


Salt was used to prepare each sacred sacrifice. Moses taught, “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing . . . [W]ith all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Lev. 2:13).

Thus Moses required preparation with salt for the covenant with God.

Ezekiel (43:23-24) also described “casting salt upon” an offering.

Salt for Savor

Those preparing the “good” earth and the temple offerings likely included folks we sometimes call “salt of the earth.” In religious history, some wrote of salt for purity. And cultures worldwide refer to salt for describing honorable conduct, enduring friendship, and warm, open hospitality.2

Versatility, Dependability

Various characteristics have been associated with salt of the earth, including “those who are considered to be of great worth and reliability”3  and “the type of person who deals with difficult or demanding situations without making any unnecessary fuss.”4

Salt is such a common flavoring that we may not notice it. Salt has a mild flavor, and is easily blended with stronger flavoring for special effects. A person who is salt of the earth blends and coordinates easily, without seeking attention or praise; a supportive role does not bother this individual.

In his book Our Day Star Rising (2022), Jeffrey R. Holland praised folks who contribute as salt for the earth,

All but a prophetic few must go about God’s work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways.  And as you labor to know Him and to know that He knows you; as you invest your time—and inconvenience—in quiet unassuming service, you will indeed find that His angels . . .  shall bear thee up” (Matthew 4:6). It may not   . . . probably won’t come quickly, but there is purpose in the time it takes.5


People in Christ’s time prized salt for preserving food. Salt does not lose its ability to preserve or flavor unless contaminated with other elements.

The Doctrine and Covenants (101: 39) mentions a historical use of salt for covenant. Joseph Smith received a revelation that “when men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men.”

But those who refuse to be “saviors of men”  are “as salt that has lost its savor, and is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden.”  Many contaminating influences attacked these potential salters.

To help provide salt for the earth, we need to keep our salt and our integrity pure.

Salt and Life

 To Survive

Salt is necessary for life—critical in the function of nerve impulses and of body cells. Without it we lose muscle function and ability to smell and taste, as well as to experience tactile impressions.

Earth salters are necessary for our spiritual survival. These followers teach us by precept and by example. Like Christ, they go about doing good: preaching and teaching when called to do so, and healing those who need ministering care.

In Our Day Star Rising, Elder Holland teaches Christ’s followers the importance of living in faith. “When you truly understand . . . you will embrace your faith, live your faith, and declare it to those who are faltering” (p. 28).

We can become earth salters with such faith.

 To Share

Referring again to Doctrine and Covenants 101, recognizing covenant duty as salt of the earth, we can learn from its application by Dallin H. Oaks.

Citing the warning from 1 John 3:13, 18, that the world hates those who live covenants,  he affirmed, “Those who have made the covenant to change have a sacred duty to love and help one another.” He specified, “Encouragement must be extended to every soul who struggles to come out of the culture of the world and into the culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” noting John’s teaching to do this “in deed and in truth.”6

 In helping us learn from our Day Star, Elder Holland’s words agree: “I ask you to be a helper, be someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better.” He concluded, “In short, I ask you to ‘follow Him’’’(p. 38).

Over 10,000 uses have been estimated for salt in today’s world of burgeoning research and technology. And more astronomical are contributions of persons included in the Savior’s “salt of the earth.” May we each seek out ways to become salt for humanity within a salty world.










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