“Salt makes people thirsty. People are thirsting for more of God’s word. We are the salt, the salt of the earth!” I remember hearing that song as a teenager and thinking “so THAT’S what that means!”
Jesus did call we Christians the “salt of the earth” and in His days on earth, salt wasn’t just something that added flavor; it was a valuable commodity that was used to preserve food, provide for healthy life, and even used as currency in some cultures. An ancient Orthodox tradition was to present the bishop with salt and bread when he visited a parish! Some parishes still do this to this day!
Salt is necessary for life! Salt makes people thirsty and preserves as well!
Look at our lesson today in Colossians 4:5-11, 14-18
Brethren, conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. Tychicos will tell you all about my affairs; he is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimos, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves. They will tell you of everything that has taken place. Aristarchos my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions if he comes to you, receive him), and Jesus who is called Justos. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippos, “See that you fulfill the ministry which you have received in the Lord.” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my fetters. Grace be with you. Amen.
St. Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Colossians with some sage advice on how to get along with each other and with society at large, the “outsiders.” He says the key is to make sure your speech is gracious and seasoned with salt! Paul promises the Colossians that if they do this, they’ll know how to answer everyone! Wow, what a promise!
So, how do we make our speech “salty?”
First, we understand that our words are meant to make others want more! An old preacher once told me “Son, make sure you stop speaking 5 minutes before everyone wished you would have stopped!” Say what we must, but not everything we think we should. There is a power in silence that opens the ears of those around you and leave them wanting more. All too often we speak from nervousness or fear. And when we are motivated by those passions instead of love, we foolishly say too much. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll be heard better if you say more. Let your speech reflect your trust in God’s Spirit to do the work in another’s heart without your voice!
Next, our words should preserve others, not destroy them. Our words should be words that tell the truth in love and produce hope in our hearers, not a sense of condemnation and futility. I’ve heard others, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, defend the Faith in such a way that actually destroyed the hearers instead of giving them hope that they could actually be helped by the words said!
Finally, our words should “season” others with love. Not the syrupy sentimentality of “smooth” talk meant to either minimize the truth or take the “sting” out of the truth, but words that prepare our hearers to receive even hard sayings with the sure knowledge that the one speaking loves them and wants their salvation.
Don’t forget that God uses words to create. He uses His Word, the Logos, our Lord Jesus, to destroy our enemies, sin, death, and Satan, so that we can enjoy Him forever. We should learn to use our words like He uses His Word!
Today, are your words to others “salty?” I’m not talking about harsh or even “colorful.” But words meant to season others for God, preserve those who hear us, and make them thirsty for more of what we have to say! Being Orthodox on Purpose must change the way we speak!
P.S. Thanks to everyone who makes this ministry possible! Your gifts mean we grow and reach more with the words of Life!