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Last time we began a discussion trying to highlight that we are living letters: what others hear and see in us should point them to Jesus Christ.
Colossians 4:5-6 teach us that our living letter should reflect a life of wisdom: we walk wisely. But not only should we walk wisely, but we should also talk graciously.
Nuclear power can be very beneficial. We are able to improve our lives with this form of power by generating electricity and powering huge ships. Yet a nuclear bomb can also destroy an entire city. It can wipe out life altogether.
The same is true with your mouth. What type of power are you yielding with your tongue: power that leads to life or power that causes death?
One of my seminary Bible professors, Dr. Thomas Constable, notes, “Speech most effectively expresses what is inside the believer.”
If Christ is in you, and you’re in Him, and your mind and affections are toward Him (as Colossians 3:12 and the following describe), what’s in you – Christ – should come out of you. More specifically, your conversation should reflect the grace you’ve been given. Just as we have been recipients of grace, what we say should reflect that grace.
That rules out harshness, gossip and ungracious talk. There’s no place for unredeemed truth. We’re called to mirror the gracious character of God. We should speak about what is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful.
Gracious conversation is seasoned conversation. Not seasoned with spice – anger, obscenity, absurdity, profanity, and idiocy; it shouldn’t be seasoned with stupidity or shallowness. No, Colossians teaches us that gracious talk is seasoned with salt.
Salt does three things. For one, it adds tang. Salt makes food appealing. God doesn’t want your speech to be bland. But your conversation ought to make spiritual food appealing. Our communication should add charm to conversations. Our experiences, reading, study, and knowledge of God and His Word should appropriately season our speech.
A master chef will season and taste the food, going back and forth until it’s just right. God wants you and me to do the same with our speech – to make it tasty and life-giving to those who hear it.
Secondly, salt arrests corruption. Salt was a preservative that slowed down the spoiling process. It maintains the purity of food.
Properly preserved speech can prevent decay in our relationships, our dreams and much more. When you aren’t preserving something through what you say, you are contributing to its decay.
Thirdly, salt creates thirst. Our talk should make people thirsty for the water of life. The passage teaches us that believers’ speech is not flat or flavorless, but lively. But this liveliness is simultaneously marked by purity.
Our talk should be attractive, wholesome and pleasant and attract the spiritual appetite for learning. When our speech is seasoned, and our talk is gracious, it will give life and peace to those around us and have people return for more.
Gracious, seasoned talk also invites questions. And when they do, we need to know how to answer them. This is not about a memorized formula; this is wisdom applied in our talk. For this, we need the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and the Holy Scriptures’ empowerment.
Some people are looking for an argument while others are looking for answers to their heart needs. Some are curious, while others are victims of wrong teaching or false doctrine. And we oftentimes don’t know the intention or motivation. That’s why we have to rely on the Holy Spirit.
And when we are available to the Holy Spirit, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we should also have God-given tools for Him to use. The greatest tool to have is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. You may not always have an affirming answer, but you’ll have appropriate answers.
Gracious talk is seasoned, enlightened by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Scriptures. Talking graciously and acting wisely will lead us to a consistent witness of who Jesus is. Our talk reflects the grace of Jesus, and our walk lives out the wisdom of God. And together, our living letter points people to Jesus Christ.
There are so many people around us who are lost. They might be kind, thoughtful people; they’re religious or friendly, but they need Christ. Our sweet, seasoned, Spirit-led conversation should get them to ask questions, and we need to know how to answer them. Our walk should be a wise witness to the gospel. Together, this living letter should point people to Jesus.