I have really been loving the epistle to the Colossians lately. Our family has a shared OneNote folder where we compile “focus verses” to dwell on, and I noticed that for such a short book, Colossians is highly represented in that compilation. There is so much practical wisdom packed into that letter, and it’s worth reading again and again. This little verse near the end challenges me in significant ways.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:6

We’re all familiar with the reflections in James 3 concerning the untamable tongue and how full of evil it is. So to be instructed to ALWAYS speak with grace in ways that will benefit our hearers feels intimidating at the least and impossible at the most.

As I am prone to do, I’d like to break the words down here to make sure I’m getting the depth of meaning.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

grace

  • Grace
    • that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
  • good will, loving-kindness, favour
    • of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
  • what is due to grace
    • the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
    • the token or proof of grace, benefit
      • a gift of grace
      • benefit, bounty
  • thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward 

    (Strong’s Outline of Biblical Usage, BlueLetterBible.org)

    seasoned  –

    • to prepare, arrange, with respect to food
    • to season, make savory 

    (Strong’s Outline of Biblical Usage, BlueLetterBible.org)

    with salt

    • salt with which food is seasoned and sacrifices are sprinkled
    • those kinds of saline matter used to fertilise arable land
    • salt is a symbol of lasting concord, because it protects food from putrefaction and preserves it unchanged. Accordingly, in the solemn ratification of compacts, this is a practice that continues to this day in some cultures, partaking of salt together.
    • wisdom and grace exhibited in speech

    It seems that “being seasoned with salt” was a common figure of speech in that time, since Jesus also uses that reference in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?“. Our words should be carefully prepared like a well-seasoned meal, which shows goodwill, kindness, and a benefit to all of those who hear us. What a responsibility! I can’t help but think that I would have a lot less to say if I were to stop every time I speak to ask myself, “Is this kind? Does it come from a place of goodwill? Does it benefit the listeners?”

    When I read this definition, it reminded me of an acrostic I’ve seen, which captures the spirit of this verse extremely well. THINK before you speak, which stands for:


    True
    Helpful
    Inspiring
    Necessary
    Kind
    It’s really all about showing love and consideration for your listeners. If I can get in the habit of asking myself these questions before speaking, and truly considering the people who hear my words, it would make a significant impact on how graceful my speech becomes. This could be a truly powerful tool to practically implement loving my neighbor and esteeming others better than myself.