To speak with grace, seasoned with salt, we must manifest the nature of Christ. Only then will He grant the wisdom to know what to speak to effect His will.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:6)
Today’s verse provides an interesting addition to the admonition that believers are to be salt and light in the world. It focuses on the matter of our speech rather than as a whole about lives that honour Christ. The Bible has a lot to say about words and their power for good or evil, and how they can also reveal our true nature. We speak what is in our heart. Interestingly enough, our verse looks not at what we speak – which is covered in how we live as salt and light – but in how we speak. It raises two points. Firstly, that we speak with grace. Secondly, that our speech be seasoned with salt.
Seasoned with salt improves the taste.
Anything seasoned with salt in the right measure is more palatable. It can transform food bland and tasteless into something appetising. We shouldn’t confuse this with diluting the truth. Our verse doesn’t encourage us to tickle ears or speak anything less than the absolute truth of the Word of God. Rather, it refers to the delivery of the truth. We can either dump it out there with little concern as to whether its ‘edible’ or not, or season it with salt. The way we deliver the message – with compassion and love – will make the listener more willing to accept it. If we simply jump in with both feet and a judgemental attitude, we accomplish nothing. But if we add a little salt, the truth becomes easier to swallow. Most people resist the truth if it challenges them deeply enough. We don’t still need to coat it with prejudice or judgement.
When the Word of God is seasoned with salt, it becomes a food that is appealing as well as nourishing. I can recall as a kid being forced to eat cabbage that was horribly overcooked until it was limp and lifeless – and utterly tasteless. I begged to be allowed to simply eat it raw. My intention was not to avoid eating the stuff but to rather have it in a condition that was both tasty and healthy. I never won that particular battle but was simply told to eat what was put in front of me. It’s an experience I have never forgotten, and even today, I avoid cabbage unless it’s cooked by me or someone I know won’t turn it into something inedible and almost recognisable. This is the simple message. When something is prepared and served well, it will go down well. The food hasn’t changed, only method.
Things were seasoned with salt to preserve them.
This is a wonderful ‘bonus’ metaphor. When the truth we speak is seasoned with salt, it’s preserved. It doesn’t ‘go off’ and it doesn’t change. It remains just what it is – the truth. But ‘preserved’ also means that it lasts. The truth remains within those who have heard it. It is preserved and its ‘shelf life’ extended so that it is available to those who hear long after the hearing. When truth is palatable and it’s preserved, people won’t want to get it down and forget about it. The seasoning keeps them coming back for more. They’re more likely to think about it in a positive way and to remember it as something desirable.
It’s important to keep in mind that we do not change the Word of God. The Bible tells us that it is perfect in and of itself. We cannot add to it, remove from it, or change it in any way. That’s an absolute. But we must remember that the Word works in those who hear it. Sometimes, it accomplishes its purpose right there and then. More often than not, though, it achieves what it is sent to do over time. It knocks around inside a person, a living, powerful truth that remains pure and effectual because it’s seasoned with salt. That’s why the matter of preservation is so important. When we speak ‘seasoned’ truth, we can be sure that it will remain in the hearer and last until God’s will is accomplished.
Seasoned with salt is empowered by grace.
This is a whole new insight into today’s verse and our being salt and light. We cannot separate seasoned with salt from grace. In fact, it is grace that is the powerful property that makes our salt what it is. If we look at the life of Christ, we never see Him compromising on the truth. Over and over, we see Him speak the truth boldly and without honey-coating. But the occasions when He spoke without grace were very rare. Confronting the religious leaders and clearing the temple are two examples. But when it came to the multitudes, our saviour always, always delivered even the most challenging truth with grace.
The woman caught in adultery provides us with a beautifully poignant example. When He finally speaks to her it is with compassion, not condemnation. But she is left in no doubt as to His true message. If anything, grace makes the truth all the more clear and powerful. He entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is an act of extreme grace. He was the living manifestation of the grace of God, and this comes through very clearly in His speech. When He spoke, it was always seasoned with salt – perfect grace. Without it, salt has no value in the spiritual sense. It is grace that empowers the salt. Without grace, salt loses its value as both seasoning and a preservative. It becomes useless, fit only to be trampled underfoot. If our speech is without grace, it has the same lack of efficacy.
Seasoned with salt depends on spiritual wisdom.
Wisdom from God is a gift of grace. It’s that extra ‘something’ that guides us in preparing and serving of the truth. We all know that the Bible – the Word of God – contains every truth for every need. The problem is never that the Word ‘doesn’t cover this.’ Rather, it’s that we lack the wisdom to know which particular truth covers a particular problem. We simply don’t have the spiritual wisdom to make the right call. But today’s verse puts things powerfully into perspective. When we school ourselves to speak the truth seasoned with salt with grace, we will know what to say. It’s all about making sure we never try to speak in our own strength.
God’s grace is supernatural and infinite, but it’s also very practical. To speak truth with grace and seasoned with salt, we must follow Christ’s example. He told us that He said and did nothing but what the Father commanded. Grace and salt are the nature of Christ in us. When we choose and earnestly desire to speak and act as He did, we look to Him. As we model ourselves on Him and draw close to learn from Him, we will hear Him speak just as He heard the Father speak. What He speaks is the wisdom we require to know what to speak in any given moment.
Obedient words are seasoned with salt.
Today’s verse provides us with a complete picture. Everything works together. Wisdom, grace, and salt cannot be separated. They have a dynamic connection that works together to effect the will of God. The surrendered life – living as salt and light – is our choice. What and how we speak will manifest what is in our hearts. If it’s Christ in our hearts, we will speak with grace, seasoned with salt, and will have the wisdom to know what to speak. Our obedience – our surrender – to His will puts us in Christ. We cannot even hope to manifest today’s verse on our own, and God does not expect us to. He graciously provides all we need.
But He won’t season a ‘self dish’ of our own devising. He won’t grant us grace and salt if we’re simply speaking what we think is right in a way we think is right. For all these things to work together, we must choose the obedience of Christ. We must look only to Him for direction. When we do, the rest will be a natural outworking of our unity with Him.
Teach us Your ways, Lord. Help us to learn from You, and stir up a desire in our hearts to live to reveal Your will as Jesus did. Draw us into obedience and surrender so that we set our own understanding aside and live for Your purposes. Empower us to speak Your truth with grace and seasoned with salt – the perfect truth for every moment which You alone know.