“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
Back in October, my wife Jessica and I went to Florida on our honeymoon. While we were there, we went to Chili’s for dinner several times. It was right around the corner from our hotel, which made it easily accessible because part of the time we were there we did not have a car, and it also has the 3-for-$25 meal deal that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. One of the nights we ate there, we picked chips and salsa for our appetizer.
To my surprise, when they delivered the chips, they had already been salted. See, I was used to having to salt the chips myself – most Chili’s and other restaurants I have ever been to do not pre-salt their chips. But these? They were salted to perfection. There was exactly the right amount of salt that I like on my chips.
When something is not salty enough, whether it’s tortilla chips or meat or French fries, it is bland, not enjoyable to the taste. We add salt and other seasonings because it spices up the food, makes it taste better.
Jesus calls Christians the salt of the earth in Matthew 5:13. When he said this, he meant it in three ways: Salt provides flavor, it makes us thirsty, and (in those days) it was used as a preservative.
As Christians, we are to provide flavor to the earth, as well as preserve it.
Colossians 4:6 tells us that we do this through gracious speech. We should be helpful and uplifting in conversation, delivering a different “flavor” than nonbelievers are used to. We should stand out from the world. That is our flavor.
When we are confronted with a difficult situation we should know how to “answer each person.” Whether this means giving an answer about our faith or responding to an offense, we should always do so with grace. It is easy to be offended, but we show how different we are by giving a gracious reply rather than a harsh word.
Salt makes us want water; likewise, we as Christians should make nonbelievers thirst for living water. To do this, we must set ourselves apart. This is an essential part of evangelism. If we are not different from the world, then what reason do they have to want to be like us? When they see a difference in us, it can be a flavor that will draw them to Christ.
Evangelism is the greatest calling believers have, and it is not an easy one. It takes the combined work of many aspects of Christian life, but particularly the work of the Spirit through us, to make us effective in evangelism. Colossians 4:2-6 gives us the ideal recipe for an evangelist:
Someone who prays
Someone who makes the most of opportunities
Someone who is seasoned with the salt of grace