By Paul Guay
What do you suppose Paul meant when he wrote Colossians 4:6... LET YOUR SPEECH ALWAYS BE WITH GRACE, AS THOUGH SEASONED WITH SALT, SO THAT YOU WILL KNOW HOW YOU SHOULD RESPOND TO EACH PERSON? If he were speaking of his backyard barbeque, his seasoning analogy would make sense, but how are we to salt our words?
Just think of what a broad influence such salted speech could have in your life; in your Church; or in your world. If it's true that A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS AWAY WRATH, BUT A HARSH WORD SIRS UP ANGER (Proverbs 15:1) wouldn't much of the anger, violence, and even international hostility be avoided? Our problem often is whether to feed the flames of anger by responding in kind or to extinguish them with a gentle, "SALTED" answer. Such a peaceful world will one day exist under the governance of the King of kings.
But how are we in the 21st Century to 'SALT' our words? Here are two pieces of the answer: First, Colossians 4:6 comes after Colossians 3:16 and comprises part of a list of behaviors produced by "LETTING THE WORD OF CHRIST DWELL IN YOU RICHLY." This is amazingly the same list which follows Ephesians 5:18 which are results of the "FILLING [or control] OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." It is clear from this that allowing the Word of Christ to richly dwell within us and being filled with the Holy Spirit are parallel concepts. Therefore "SALTED SPEECH" (Colossians 4:6) and "SPIRITUAL SPEECH" (Ephesians 5:19) are not products of the flesh. If you try to reign in your salt-less, anger-producing speech you will fail. "SALTED SPEECH", whatever it is, is produced by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. There's the "HOW-TO" of developing SALTED speech.
Secondly, WHAT is salted speech? For that we go clear back to Leviticus 2:13 where God regulated Israel's sacrifices for sin... "EVERY GRAIN OFFERING OF YOURS, MOREOVER, YOU SHALL SEASON WITH SALT, SO THAT THE SALT OF THE COVENANT OF YOUR GOD SHALL NOT BE LACKING FROM YOUR GRAIN OFFERING; WITH ALL YOUR OFFERINGS YOU SHALL OFFER SALT." The connection, at least by way of application, is apparent. If we viewed our speech as a sacrifice of sweet smelling savor to our God we would avoid the pitfalls of a tongue set on fire by Hell (James 3:6); and we would realize the peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Jesus patterned such SALTED SPEECH for us (Luke 4:22; John 7:46). Christ-likeness is, after all, part of God's goal in creating us (Romans 8:29).
We could change this world, starting right here in Sunnyside, WA. The first step would be to hunger for it (Matthew 5:6); the second to pray for it (John 14:14). Please think on this, and may Proverbs 12:14 come true in you: A MAN WILL BE SATISFIED WITH GOOD BY THE FRUIT OF HIS WORDS... and may the peace of God guard your hearts in Christ Jesus?
Paul Guay is the pastor of Mabton Grace Brethren Church.