How to become utterly worthless

Sometimes, when something doesn’t do what it was made to do, you can find another use for it.  I once used the handle of a broken shovel as a stake in my garden to hold up a large tomato plant. It actually worked quite well.  I have seen old car tires, that no longer work well as car tires, being used for all kinds of different things, from planters to playground equipment.

But sometimes, there are things designed with such specific purpose, that when they cease to fulfill that purpose, there is absolutely no other legitimate use for them.  Salt fits into this category.

Salt can be used to add flavor to food or to preserve food. But if salt quits making food “come alive” with flavor, and no longer functions as a preservative, Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.42.33 PMthere is no other use for it.  If salt stops being salty it becomes completely worthless.

In Luke 14:34-35 Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus said that salt that does not behave the way salt should has less value than dirt! People have even found beneficial uses for animal waste, using it as a fertilizer. No such use can be found for salt that is not salty. It is utterly worthless and is thrown away.

If Jesus had simply been talking about sodium chloride, that would be one thing, but he wasn’t.  He was using salt as an analogy as he talked about people who claim to follow him.  Followers of Jesus are called to be like salt in this world.  We are called to bring life and preserve.  A disciple of Jesus is similar to salt in that he or she is designed with a very specific purpose.  And if that purpose is not fulfilled the result is worthlessness. What happens if a disciple refuses to “bring life” or preserve? What if they refuse to do what they were made to do?

If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior then you are a new creature (2 Corinth 5:17). As a new creature, you have a new purpose; bringing others into relationship with Jesus (2 Corinth 5:18-21).  This is the same instruction Jesus gave to his disciples in Matthew 28.  A disciple of Jesus is assigned the task of telling other about Jesus & teaching them to follow Jesus (Matt 28:19-20).

Disciples disciple.  That’s what we do. That is what we were made to do. That is our purpose. A disciple that doesn’t disciple is like salt that isn’t salty: worthless.  Refuse to fall into that category.  Decide today that you will fulfill the purpose that God gave you.  Commit to tell somebody about Jesus and teach them to follow him.

Disciples disciple. Refuse to become utterly worthless. Do what you were made to do.

good question

I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew.  One thing that has been standing out to me this time through are some of the questions Jesus uses, particularly the questions that are left with no response.  I will not attempt to answer any of these questions, but I would like to draw attention to their significance.

One example is found in Matthew 8.  It is the story of Jesus asleep in the boat as he and the disciples cross the lake.  A storm threatens to sink them and they wake Jesus up, fearing for their lives.  In verse 26, just before rebuking the storm, Jesus asks this question, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (NASV)  The disciples never respond to Jesus’ question.  The obvious answer would be, “well Jesus, we are afraid because of this terrible storm and the fact we are about to sink.

Surely Jesus was aware
that the disciples saw the storm as the cause of their fear. But I have a hard time believing that Jesus took the time to ask the disciples a question with such an obvious answer.  His question, in the middle of a storm, was not a use of sarcasm, or an attempt to belittle the other men in the boat.  There was something deeper that Jesus was attempting to draw attention to.

Another example is found in Matthew 14.  In this chapter we find the disciples at sea once again.  This time Jesus comes to them, walking on the water.  Peter leaves the boat to approach Jesus but begins to sink.  After Jesus rescues Peter, he asks him this question in verse 31, “Why did you doubt?” Peter never answers the question and the story moves on.

Typically I just keep on reading, the answer to Jesus’ questions seeming fairly obvious. But for whatever reason, as I read through Matthew this time, I keep getting stuck on these questions. Jesus was not wasting time with redundant questions.  He was probing, teaching, helping the disciples come to some realization.  After failures of some sort the disciples are left with a question.  I have to believe Jesus’ heart in asking these questions was to help them, to lead them to some insight that would prevent them from making the same mistake in the future. When Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.

As I wrestle with these and other unanswered questions in Matthew I am finding it enlightening to apply these questions to my own fears and doubts.

When I struggle with doubt, why? When I am afraid, why?

Is there something I have allowed into my life that has caused it?  Is there a “voice” that I have listened to that I shouldn’t have? Are there things I need to be doing to keep my faith strong that I have neglected? Is my focus where it should be?

Again, when Jesus asks a question, there must be a corresponding answer.  Pay attention to these types of questions in the Gospel accounts.  Next time you find an unanswered question, consider that maybe you are the one who is supposed to supply the answer.