When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she had a lot of health complications. The worst was her blood pressure. She was admitted to the hospital several times during her pregnancy to try to get her blood pressure under control, and while she was there, they put her on a low-sodium diet. In the 20 years since those hospital stays, we’ve never said, “Do you know what I’d like to have? Some of that low sodium, grilled chicken and vegetables we ate at the hospital.” Sometimes, salt makes all the difference in the world. In one of S.D. Smith’s children’s books, a character said, “Not enough salt is an in-salt,’ and ‘Too much salt is an as-salt!”
Closing up the book of Colossians (4:2-6), Paul instructs the church to continue in prayer with thanksgiving, and while they are at it, pray for Paul. Paul was in bonds, but he desired an opportunity to preach the gospel, that a door of utterance would be open to him, and that he would boldly and with clarity open up the mystery of Christ and speak as he ought. Then, he tells the church to walk in wisdom among the unsaved. Where Paul desires the opportunity to go and preach, the church, which is unrestrained, needs to walk and talk wisely. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
We know that we need to speak the truth, and we also need to speak wisely and graciously. Humans are not emotionless robots that receive information, analyze it, and make logical decisions based on facts alone. Conservative pundits like to say, “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” which is a true statement. But it’s also true that the person you are talking to does care about their feelings. If the object is to win a debate, how we speak doesn’t matter or prove we are right, how we say things doesn’t matter. If our goal is to win the person or convince the gainsayers, then there is another element we need to consider. Our words should be seasoned with salt.
I put too much salt in my food. And for a while, I would add salt before tasting it. I don’t do that anymore because I once had a meal with someone who, by mistake, oversalted the food. When I added my bit, it tasted like I was eating a salt block. I couldn’t taste the food because all I could taste was salt. You can go too far the other way and be so winsome that your message is lost in your desire to be gracious.
We must speak the truth, but remember how we say things also matters. There aren’t hard and fast rules. That’s why we need to walk in wisdom. Sometimes, you show mercy, and sometimes, you must snatch them out of the fire (Jude 22-23). Speak truthfully, wisely, and graciously for the glory of Christ.