On a visit to Poland this week, we visited the Wieliczka Royal Salt Mine. If you’re ever in Krakaw, take a day to experience this UNESCO World Heritage site! Here is only a tiny sampling of things to see.
The salt mine was active for 700 years, and was mined to a depth of 327 meters (over 1,000 feet). All through the mine, which covers almost 150 miles of passageways, miners left their mark through carvings and statues made entirely of salt. It’s not the white table salt we might be used to, but it’s salt nonetheless! A great majority of these carvings are religious in nature, showing the miners’ deep faith in God. As they walked through the corridors, they would greet each other with “God Bless,” knowing that ten percent of them would die in work-related accidents.
This statue is in honor of King Casimir the Great of Poland, who built a hospital for the miners in 1363, and in 1368 issued “Statute of the Cracow Saltworks,” which laid out rules for hiring and paying workers (among other things).
At this stage in history, salt was much more valuable and harder to come by, and made up around a third of the royal treasury’s income! So imagine, if this was the case in the 1300s, how much more valuable was salt in Jesus’s day? Roman soldiers were paid in salt, and that’s where we get the English word “salary.” I don’t think that would go over very well today!
In Matthew 5, Jesus calls his followers the salt of the earth. In order to get salt at that time, you had to work hard to pay for it! If we are salt, and salt is valuable, it only follows that we are valuable.
But where does our value lie? Is it in all of the things we do for God and for others? Is it found in how well we follow the rules of morality? Is it in how many people we can influence? No, it is not found in any of these things.
The value of anything is the price someone is willing to pay for it. So just how valuable are we? The answer can be found in the cross. Paul writes this about Christ Jesus:
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 NLT)
Christ died for you and for me. He took the punishment we deserved for the innumerable ways we have failed to live up to God’s standard, and made a way for us to be acceptable in God’s sight. Lift your head, my friend, and know that you are loved beyond comprehension! You are valued by your Creator more than you could ever imagine.
I remember a hymn we sang very often as I was growing up, which said,
“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe…”
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Yes, you are valuable and highly loved, but you are no longer the master of your life! You have been bought to be the salt of the earth.
What does that even mean? Salt is used for flavoring and for preserving. Being the salt of the earth, our lives should affect the world around us for the better as we live to please our Father in heaven.
Living to please him does not mean we are trying to earn anything from him, because He’s paid it all already! We are simply living out of gratitude for all that He has done for us. As we submit to his work in our lives, he “makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). And the closer we get to being the image of Christ in this world, the more flavor we’ll bring to it!
Here are a few heart questions to ask yourself:
- Am I honoring God in the way I treat others?
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4).
- Am I honoring God with how much effort I put into my work?
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23).
- Am I honoring God with the words I speak?
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” talk to God about it. Ask him for help and strength to live a life pleasing to him. “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him” (Psalm 105:4). He will answer you!
You are valuable, my friend, and how you live your life matters. Make your days here count, and be the salt of the earth you were meant to be!