A salty dog


Salty Dog – a cocktail drink originally with gin, grapefruit juice and salt on the rim.

Salty Dog – a nickname for an ornery sailor who has spent much of his or her life aboard a ship at sea.


Being the salt of the earth could mean a lot of things. No one is 100% sure about exactly what Jesus meant when He called us the salt of the earth, but I like to think there is some grit involved. Salt is an abrasive. In Jesus’ day it was rubbed into meat to keep it from spoiling (certainly one of the top contenders for what Jesus meant in regards to preserving truth in the world). An older rendering of salty dog came from rubbing salt into a dog’s coat as a flea repellent. And “rubbing salt into a wound” came from ancient Egypt when after flogging someone, they would rub salt into the sounds to inflight more pain, thus the definition, “to make a difficult situation even worse.” Jesus did this often to the Pharisees. He was caustic with them, calling them “snakes,” “blind guides,” and “whitewashed tombs.” Not exactly how you would want to endear yourself to someone.

Jesus’ words often had bite. He praised Peter and in the next breath called him “Satan” (Matthew 16:15-23). After His resurrection, when Jesus was telling Peter how he was going to die, and Peter asked about the other disciples, Jesus said, ‘What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22). He often scolded the disciples for having too little faith and for taking so long to understand. And He saved a good deal of vitriol for the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23).

I think that being the salt of the earth means we have character, and I’m not talking about having upstanding character, I’m talking about being “characters.” We all have distinctive personalities given to us by God and I believe He wants us to take full advantage of what makes us each unique. My mentor, Ron Ritchie, has a salty character. He stands out in a crowd. He is outspoken. He can be brash at times and very humorous. Not that we all have this kind of personality, but we each have some salty characteristic that gives our personality character.

My wife Marti’s saltiness is her directness and forthrightness. She puts herself and her opinions out there and doesn’t care what people think of her. I, on the other hand, do care (too much) about what people think of me, so I have learned to use humor to get my point across. That would be my saltiness. If I can get people to laugh at me, then they can figure out what I said later.

Truth often has a bite to it. It digs in. It goes against the grain. Truth calls us out as selfish, sinful and proud. Facing the truth about ourselves is never a walk in the park. It is more of a salty experience. But there is also God’s grace, mercy and compassion to heal the wounds that truth uncovers.

One more thing about salt. I think God meant for us to be sprinkled around, not dumped in one place. A little bit of salt sprinkled over food brings out the true flavor of the food. A large quantity of salt in one place (remember the old loosening-the-top-of-the-salt-shaker trick?) will ruin the food. I think this is one of the reasons the world is largely defensive against Christians these days. We’ve tried to influence the world through majorities, coalitions and political organizations — dumping ourselves in one place — when we were meant to be scattered throughout the world with just the right amount of saltiness.

So when you think about being the salt of the earth, think about that gritty, crusty sailor. Maybe his talk is a little coarse, but it is straight and to the point. So let a little grit into your character. Make life interesting. Being the salt of the earth I think also means being a little salty.


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4 Responses to A salty dog

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    TY Pastor John 4 Today’s Catch, “Arrrrr.” LOL

  2. Sandie says:

    We have to be careful that it is the Holy Spirit that determines how much salt is dispersed, and where, and at the right time.

  3. Tom Faletti says:

    Sandie makes a fair point. It would be easy for Christians to try to excuse unloving behavior that does not actually reflect the love of our Father by saying, “I’m just being my salty self.”
    But at the same time, I think John offers a thoughtful challenge. His reminder about the actual nature of salt suggests that we should be bracing rather than milquetoasts. That ‘s a useful challenge for those of us whose natural tendency is to try to blend in rather than stand out.

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