The Cold Hard Facts of Life Copy

I have a nasty habit. It may not be all that nasty, but it isn’t all that healthy either. And I am guessing I am not the only one. The habit? Salting my food before I even taste it. I know how Angela cooks, so I am generally safe salting things first at home. It is when we eat out this salting habit can get me in trouble, which it has done on more than one occasion!

Paul urged his Colossian readers to be “salty” in their interactions with those outside the Christian community. He instructed them to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity” (Col. 4:5). As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, our conversations should “always be full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6), adding a taste of God’s favor whenever possible.

Paul used an image well-known in the ancient world, to let your conversations be “seasoned with salt.” D. A. Carson writes, “This [phrase] meant ‘witty’ in pagan usage but here Paul suggests language that is not dull or flat but well chosen, based on the wisdom of Christ.” Given the casual way words are used in our culture, both spoken and in social media, a conversation seasoned with salt can prove to be quite challenging.

In Paul’s time salt was used as a preservative to keep food from spoiling. “This would mean the believer's speech is to be free from corruption, wholesome in content” (Anders). Like me, you have probably been in far too many conversations serving as breeding grounds for corruption and discontent. Solomon wrote “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Well-chosen words are words well-salted for life.

Salt, as in our day, was also used as an additive to give food flavor. “If this meaning lies behind Paul’s figure, then the believer’s speech is to be interesting, tactful, and add to the appeal and value of the conversation” (Anders). Solomon put it this way, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value” (Pro. 10:19). Well-salted words are those that communicate worth and value, pointing to the Giver of life.

Another use of salt in the ancient world was as an antiseptic. You may be familiar with the phrase “pouring salt into an open wound.” That was literally done in Paul’s day to try to kill and to draw infection out of a wound. If you have experienced even something as simple as a bead of sweat dripping into a wound, you know the sting it creates! We are called to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), knowing well-salted words will sting, even while promoting healing.

Jesus said we are the “salt of the earth” (cf. Matt. 5:13). One way of acting like it is by ensuring our conversations are grace-filled, and heavily “seasoned with salt.” Unlike food which can be over-salted, I am not sure our words can be. As you are in conversation with those who don’t know Jesus, and even with those who do, remember: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Pro. 16:24).

Now pass the salt!

Pastor David

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