Friday, 2 June 2017
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6
Paul continues to give exhortations for sound Christian living. In the previous verse, he noted appropriate conduct, or “walk.” Now he moves to appropriate speech by saying, “Let your speech always be with grace.” The Greek literally reads, “in grace.” It is the element in which speech is to be saturated. Our speech should be happy, sincere, filled with humility, etc. It should pour fourth from the pitcher of grace like sap pours fourth sweet syrup from the tree.
He then says that our speech should also be “seasoned with salt.” The use of salt goes back to the Old Testament offerings. It says in Leviticus 2:13 –
“And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.”
Salt has exactly the opposite effect of leaven or honey in the Bible. These were forbidden to be in almost all offerings because they signify sin and corruption. Salt, on the other hand, produces and signifies incorruption. It strengthens the food in which it is, and also preserves it. Thus, it is a sign of faithfulness and covenant keeping. It goes so far as to indicate the perpetual nature of a covenant. It will never be broken as long as it is in force. Jesus refers to the use of salt in sacrifices in Mark 9:49, 50 –
“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
The inclusion of salt in the Old Testament offerings pictures Christ’s incorruption; He having never sinned before God. It represents His covenant keeping nature, and even as One who will never break the covenant He makes. Paul would have us emulate Christ in our speech, using words of strengthening, incorruption, and preservation of all that is good.
His words in this verse are given as if directing a meal of delicious conduct concerning our speech. And this is so “that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Each person that one encounters is an individual. We cannot gear our speech to just one approach, but it needs to be modified for the sake of the one we are talking to. But in that speech, we are to draw from the well of grace, and add in the seasoning of salt at all times. We are to be able to give a reason for the hope we possess, we are to do it in meekness and fear, and we are to be courteous and sincere as we utter forth our words.
Life application: How easy it is to let our words slip into that which is profane and even harmful. But we are admonished to not allow this to happen. If what we say is drawn from a nurturing well of grace and then seasoned with salt, it will be helpful, not harmful. It will be soothing and able to build up others instead of tearing them down. Let us strive to meet this goal at all times so that Christ will be exalted by our words.
Lord God, help our speech to others to be given out in grace and to be seasoned with salt. May each thought we convey to others be a meal of delight and not one of bitterness. People are judging our spiritual lives by our earthly conduct, and in turn their perception of Christ is what is ultimately being evaluated. Help us then to make all of our words sincere, meaningful, and helpful. Be with us in this, O God, as it is not always an easy thing. Amen.