“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (NIV)
Just recently I heard a message by a ministry I value highly. While they were very good in showing that disciples should not cover their light, they were erroneous, I believe, in saying that salt losing it’s flavor was impurities (sins) contaminating the salt so that it was no longer salty. This explication was from Mt. 5. 13-16, the Sermon on the Mount. This figure of impurities is a long-held explanation by the Christian Community of what salt losing it’s flavor meant in Jesus’ parable. This interpretation has never been satisfying or really explains the parable. Salt cannot, by experience or theory, lose it’s flavor. The Greek word that Jesus used means “become foolish” and has no other meaning. Therefore, the metaphor means “to apostatize.” Disciples will always have sins that need repentance but that doesn’t mean they are worthless and should be trampled on. No, the figure of salt refers to someone who has counted the cost and is “all in” to the Lord in discipleship. It is someone who is “wise to salvation,” opposite to those who made a false start and later turned to folly (moranthe-Mt. 5.13, Lk. 14. 34).
Jesus, undoubtedly, gave the parable about salt becoming foolish more than once. Luke records the saying on the heals of the teaching about discipleship. Disciples of Jesus need to even forsake their own lives and give up everything to follow Him. Luke has the saying immediately after the examples of a builder figuring the construction cost of a great project and a king going to war. A miscalculation by either of these two instances meant disaster. Jesus is warning potential followers the dangers of superficial discipleship. In essence, the parable of salt “losing its flavor” is echoed by Peter in 2Pet. 2. 20-22:
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”