Salty Speech

by | May 24, 2022

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he tells believers, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). Metaphors are often culturally-specific, so Paul means something different by Salty Speech than might be intuitive for us.

Saltiness here refers to seasoning (1). Salt makes food better. Our speech should make conversations better.

Scripture acknowledges that not everything true is always helpful in the moment. Proverbs commends the wisdom of knowing when to apply words to a situation: ”A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Proverbs 25:11). The Westminster Larger Catechism makes the same point, stating that “speaking the truth unseasonably” is a violation of the ninth commandment (Q 145).

These two passages complement each other. We might prefer to be one-dimensional truth-tellers who are always providing the hammer of correction to every conversation we enter. Some behave this way thinking they are doing the Lord’s work. But sometimes the one-dimensional approach does more harm than good.

I’m not suggesting we substitute error for truth. I’m suggesting we learn that there is a time to speak and a time to remain silent (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Not every conversation needs my input. Not every error is mine to correct. Sometimes it is better to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11) than to speak into it. When we do speak, our contribution to the conversation should improve it. Our speech, even our correction or rebuke, should be redemptive in nature. It should suggest a better way forward rather than just complain.

If I stub my toe walking to bed at night, the last thing I want to hear at that moment is a reminder from my wife that if I had picked up my shoes, that wouldn’t have happened. She may be right, I wouldn’t call that timing helpful.

Christians of various persuasions who imagine themselves prophets contribute so much noise to already tense conversations. You hear it in what feels like every horrible yet familiar aftermath of a racial tragedy. Christians can say really hurtful and unhelpful things. Sometimes those things are true. But James tells us that what we might imagine as wisdom is demonic if lacking in gentleness (James 3:13–15).

How might we encourage rather than criticize? When might we stay silent rather than risk being unhelpful? Our ambition as we speak should always be to build up and encourage. If we can make that mental switch, our brothers and sisters will thank us.

 


(1) Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 382.


Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that God soften our hearts to be more gentle in our speech
  2. Pray for opportunities to encourage weary saints
  3. Pray that God gives us greater self-control and mastery over our tongues (James 3)

 

Recent POdcasts

Studying History with Matt Hall

Studying History with Matt Hall

Isaac and Austin sit down with Dr. Matt Hall, who is the Provost at BIOLA in California. We discuss his interest in history. There are good and bad ways to study history, so we talk about pitfalls to avoid and how we can make sure we're being as honest as possible. We...

read more
Does Jew & Gentile equal Black & White?

Does Jew & Gentile equal Black & White?

How does the Biblical concept of ethnicity relate to our modern conceptions of race? Does Jew and Gentile equal Black & White? Shai Linne is back to take us through Scripture to show how God's promise to Abraham for a multi-ethnic family is central to the gospel...

read more
Talking to Kids about Race

Talking to Kids about Race

 Talking with kids about race is hard but important work. Shai Linne is back with us to share his own childhood experience, as well as advice for talking with kids about race. We want to be proactive in teaching our children that they are made in the image of God,...

read more

Upcoming Events

Isaac-Adams-United-We-Pray-speaking-at-an-event

Click Here to View Now

Recent Articles

Meet the Black Church: Gardner C Taylor

Meet the Black Church: Gardner C Taylor

The Prince of the Pulpit: Gardner C Taylor Gardner C Taylor was the only son of a black Baptist preacher. He was born June 18, 1918 and raised in segregated Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A car accident in 1937, in which a man died, catalyzed him to embark on his ministry...

read more
What Does the Bible Say about Interracial Marriage?

What Does the Bible Say about Interracial Marriage?

Does the Bible discourage or even prohibit interracial marriage? For years in evangelical churches in the American South, sermons and tracts against interracial marriage were common. Many of the interracial couples I know personally have experienced resistance or...

read more
Three Forms of Knowledge

Three Forms of Knowledge

My wife’s uncle is a urologist. He has dealt with countless patients who are battling with kidney stones. Many within the medical community say that they (and renal pain in general) are worse and more acute than any other type of pain. As a physician he understands...

read more

We’d love to hear what you think about this article. Submit your feedback by clicking here to contact us.

Author

  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

Related Articles

Stay Connected