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

The Incarnation with Fred Sanders

The Incarnation with Fred Sanders

Merry Christmas from United? We Pray. For this very special Christmas episode, we sit down with Dr. Fred Sanders to talk about the Incarnation of Christ. What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth as a baby boy? What does it mean that he came as a Jewish baby boy with...

read more
Ethnic Sins with Shai Linne

Ethnic Sins with Shai Linne

 Shai Linne joins us again today to talk about his section in The New Reformation (Moody, 2020) in which he outlines various ethnic sins which commonly fall under the heading "racism." By differentiating these kinds of sins, Shai gives us tools to deal with them from...

read more
The Evangelical Imagination with Karen Swallow Prior

The Evangelical Imagination with Karen Swallow Prior

It was an honor to be joined by Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, author of the new book The Evangelical Imagination: How Stories, Images, & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis. Dr. Prior has keen insight into the role our imaginations play in creating assumptions about...

read more

Upcoming Events

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

Click Here to View Now

Recent Articles

MLK DAY SPECIAL: BE PATIENT WITH THEM ALL (PART 1)

MLK DAY SPECIAL: BE PATIENT WITH THEM ALL (PART 1)

This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other’s eyes out. – G.K. Chesterton, 1910 Over 113...

read more
Editor’s Pick: Our Favorite Episodes of 2022

Editor’s Pick: Our Favorite Episodes of 2022

This was a big year for our ministry. We need to thank you for sharing this podcast with your family and friends, because our subscriber base has grown tremendously this year. We were blessed to have some great guests and episodes this year. I wanted to share a few...

read more
Thanksgiving Special 2022

Thanksgiving Special 2022

Christians should be, by nature, thankful people. We understand that we were created by God, in His image, with the capacity to know Him and love others created in His image. As we all celebrate the day of Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to offer a specific word of...

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