Theme: A Few Important Warnings
This week’s lessons remind us that all who have received the grace of God in Jesus Christ therefore need to demonstrate that grace in our conversations.
Scripture: Colossians 4:6
Our conversation should be interesting. My final point is that the conversation of Christians should be interesting, which is the way I understand the phrase “seasoned with salt.” Salt had various uses in the ancient world, the chief one being that it was used as a preservative. There was no refrigeration then, of course. So if meat was to be preserved, for instance, the only way of doing it was by smoking it or curing it with salt. Jesus was probably thinking about this use of salt when he told his disciples that they were “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). He meant that it is due to the influence of godly people that the world is not a more rotten place than it is.
But that is not what Paul is thinking of in this verse from Colossians, for here he uses the words “seasoned with.” This is not referring to salt’s preservative powers but to salt’s ability to contribute flavor to something that might otherwise be insipid.
Is your conversation like that? Is it interesting? I am afraid that many Christians are dull in what they say because they are not thinking much about important matters and can only comment on the latest sports scores or the weather. Yet it is also true that the most interesting of all people are Christians, in my judgment, particularly if they are studying God’s Word and learning to think about life as Christians. People like this do not merely reflect the warmed-over views or hackneyed clichés of the gray dull world around them. Their minds are alive with new ideas, and their conversation is provocative and intriguing.
Throughout the year my speaking schedule brings me into contact with many such people. I am always stimulated by these contacts. Shouldn’t your speech be lively? Shouldn’t your conversation be at least as well-prepared, satisfying, and tasty as the conversation between Neil Postman and Camille Paglia that I referred to in the introduction to this study?
There is one more matter before I end. I have written about what our speech should be, but I also want to note that there are important biblical warnings about what our words should not be. First, they should not be arrogant, that is, pretending to have answers to questions we do not actually have. Remember Job’s counselors. God called their words “words without knowledge” (Job 38:2), and Job rightly complained that their ignorant counsel harmed him. He asked his friends, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words” (Job 19:2)?
Second, our words should not be divisive. Some people think that in order to defend truth they have to be argumentative. But Paul warned Timothy about godless men whose arguments “result in envy, quarreling, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind” (1 Tim. 6:4, 5). He also said, “Warn [Christians] before God against quarreling about words” (2 Tim. 2:14).
Third, our words should not be careless. Remember Jesus’ warning about the place words will have in the final judgment. He said, “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36, 37).
Words are important! Your conversation counts!
“May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).
What does Paul mean when he speaks of our words being “seasoned with salt”? What can you do so that you are properly prepared to be able to, as Paul also writes, “know how you ought to answer each person”?
From the lesson, what three things should our speech not be?
Application: How can you and your Christian friends or family be a mutual encouragement concerning each other’s speech and the need for it to be full of grace?