Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 (NIV)
In Sunday school as we looked at this passage, someone commented that “salty language” often evokes strident, even painful comment. But actually, at the time this phrase was used by Paul, the Greeks employed it to refer to “witty, charming discourse.” Oh, how I wish all my conversations could be characterized like that.
Have you ever said anything you wish you could retract? Are you familiar with the old (probably now considered barbaric) custom of washing a child’s mouth out with soap when he/she said something unacceptable? Wouldn’t it be lovely if changing our conversation were that simple, but, instead, the origin of those harmful words is the heart and the mind. Jesus said, “It is what comes from within that defiles you.”
A friend told me about a fishing trip where a group of friends had gone out in a boat with their pastor. One of the men accidentally stuck a hook into his finger and automatically let out some spicy expletive. Remembering that the pastor was with them, he looked up sheepishly and said, “Oh, thank God, tomorrow is Sunday.” What was inside had made its way out.
In Ephesians (4:29 LB) Paul encourages us not to “use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Remember the old saying that you know what’s in a tea bag when it’s put in hot water? I think this is what Jesus is talking about: “…whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matt. 12:34 LB).
Our tongue can be a real challenge, especially if we’re trying to control it through our own efforts apart from God’s transforming grace. As we grow to be more and more like Jesus, our words, attitudes, and behaviors will also become more like him. And what comes out will be “seasoned with salt.”
Change my heart, O God. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN.