Bible Study: Stay Salty

The challenges of the Christian life can seem relentless, but staying the course is worth it.

Since the late 1800s, people with a rugged personality have been called “salty,” probably a reference to sailors who were often at sea, away from the refinements of polite society. But when Jesus told His followers to stay salty, He was speaking about endurance in walking with God. His first-century listeners knew salt was useful only as long as its qualities remained. What about you—are you in for the duration?

 

READ

Luke 14:26-35; John 21:4-19

 

BACKGROUND

In His teaching, Jesus used salt as a metaphor to describe a disciple’s need for endurance. Salt had value, but impure mixtures could break down, losing the ability to enhance food flavor, among other things.

 

REFLECT

Committing to Jesus demands a lot from us. But His overwhelming goodness far outweighs any price.

  • Jesus urges us to recognize there’s a cost to following Him—and it’s not a one-time payment. In Luke’s gospel, He refers to it as carrying a cross (Luke 14:27), building a tower (Luke 14:28), waging war (Luke 14:31), giving up all one has (Luke 14:33), and salt staying salty (Luke 14:34). These all imply commitment over time, often in the face of great expense and difficulty. What “prices” have you paid to follow Christ? For example, cost might take the form of giving up ungodly habits, modifying relationships with those who don’t accept Jesus, or continually renouncing pride. Have you ever wanted to give up on your life in Him? What convinced you to stay the course, or brought you back to it?

  • Giving up everything one possesses (v. 33) is an extreme demand—do you think Jesus meant this literally? Having relinquished your life to Christ when you trusted Him as Savior, did you receive any of it back? Describe the Lord’s response to your commitment and whether it helped you to “retain saltiness” (carry on).

  • In Matthew 5:13, Jesus also mentioned staying salty. He was concluding His beatitudes, which describe nine possibly difficult qualities for His followers to have. Each one, however, brings a reward that is infinitely greater. Why do you think He added the encouragement to stay salty?

Jesus urges us to recognize there’s a cost to following Him—and it’s not a one-time payment.

 

REFLECT

Only Jesus is fully aware of how hard your challenges as a Christian will be. Knowing Peter will pay the ultimate price, Jesus strengthens him to go on.  

  • In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks three times if Peter loves Him. After each positive response, Jesus tells the apostle to tend His sheep. What connection do you see between love and enduring in the Lord’s service? How has love for Jesus helped you remain dedicated?

  • Notice what occurs just prior to that exchange. In John 21:3-6, the resurrected Jesus appears to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias and performs the same miracle as when He first called Peter: After a failed night of fishing, His instructions lead to an astounding catch. The first miracle resulted in Peter giving up all he had to follow Jesus. (See Luke 5:11.) Why do you think Jesus repeats the experience now? How might this build Peter’s confidence to face whatever is in store?

  • Jesus’ love is so immense that the mere thought of Him can make our sacrifices less painful.

  • In John 21:18-19, Jesus reveals Peter will be martyred for God’s glory. How are the words “Follow Me!” like His counsel to stay salty (Matt. 5:13)? Describe a time you sensed Jesus urging you to follow Him despite a cost—what decision did you make?

  • Jesus’ love is so immense that the mere thought of Him can make our sacrifices less painful. And His acts of love for each of us are as personal and uncountable as they were for Peter and every other believer. (See John 21:25.) Staying salty means being available for every blessing He has planned.

 

GOING FURTHER

Consider how this study applies to your life.

Persisting in the Christian life can mean many things, like trying anew each day, despite failures. Or not taking up bad habits again after having relinquished them. And you can probably think of other ways we’re challenged to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). The Lord is our wisdom and strength in this race; that’s why Hebrews 12:2 continues with “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” But we need practical steps. With regard to staying salty, Jesus also referred to waging war (Luke 14:31). So let’s look to the Bible’s description of the armor of God, which will help us endure.

  • Ephesians 6:14-17 describes our spiritual armor as the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). Take a few moments to assess the presence of each in your life. Where are you currently strongest? Where could you use greater confidence?

  • The armor is described as something we “take up” (Eph. 6:13). That means it’s already ours, and always available. Is it a relief to discover you don’t need to create or earn any of it? What would a simple choice to pick up a piece of the armor today look like for you?

  • Your heavenly Father has provided everything you need to wage your war, build your tower to perfect completion, and remain committed to a fervent life in Christ, even through daily trials and long challenges. Keep looking to Jesus—and stay salty. You’ll never regret where He leads.

 

Illustration by Adam Cruft

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26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,

30 saying, `This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

34 Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?

35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5 So Jesus said to them, Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, No."

6 And He said to them, Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch. " So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work ), and threw himself into the sea.

8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.

10 Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish which you have now caught."

11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

12 Jesus said to them, Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples ventured to question Him, Who are You?" knowing that it was the Lord.

13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.

14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, Tend My lambs."

16 He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, Shepherd My sheep."

17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, Tend My sheep.

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. "

19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, Follow Me!"

27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

34 Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?

13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, Tend My lambs."

16 He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, Shepherd My sheep."

17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, Tend My sheep.

3 Simon Peter said to them, I am going fishing." They said to him, We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5 So Jesus said to them, Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, No."

6 And He said to them, Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch. " So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. "

19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, Follow Me!"

25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,

15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;

16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

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