What the Bible says about speech amazes me. Paul considered the topic so important that he wrote down some specific thoughts on it. Point being, the words we choose to use in everyday conversations do matter! Paul views this concept as, “speech seasoned with salt.” Every once in awhile I hear someone with an attitude that basically says, “If you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to be around me.” To lovers of Jesus Christ, I think the above verse gives an answer to that type of insolence. It shows that we all need to ask God to pass the salt to add a little seasoning of grace to our tongues.
Interestingly, Bible translators, in almost every case, decided to begin the sentence structure of verse 6 with the word, “let.” For the most part the idea is that gracious speech is a choice and not something that uncontrollably happens. Yes, people have the capacity to use poor judgment in selecting words. Destitute phrases originate from a careless heart. Jesus is clear in this fact when He notes that our words come out of the abundance of our hearts.¹
I recently read of an individual who believes he can “once in awhile” use the “F-bomb” in conversation and Jesus is okay with that. If this person were listening, Paul would answer him with Ephesians 4, verse 29:
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.²
Apparently the words coming out of our mouths do matter to Jesus! He’s not “cool” with the use of the “F-bomb,” even if it’s used only once in awhile. We can choose to make the habit of gracious speech a pattern of life. I was recently reading F.B. Meyer who made the point: “Nothing so tests the quality of our minds as our use and choice of adjectives.” The man who has control of his adjectives knows the mastery of thought.
Verse 6 from The Message Bible instructs us what this speech seasoned with salt sounds like when heard:
“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”
Speech seasoned with salt sounds like conversations that bring out the best in others. It’s easy to add nasty, cutting comments in banter. Caddy words about a person’s dress or snarky remarks toward an individual add nothing. To belittle, or put someone down in the shrewdest of ways does not build up at all. In fact, the only thing a snide comment strengthens is the assurance that the user is a hurtful, caddy, petty person that others will not want to be around. If you enjoy living alone, be a caddy, snarky person. However, please understand that a cutting wit only enhances the conformation of an insecure individual.
The point The Message Bible is making: learn to bring out the best in others in conversation. Speech seasoned with salt enables a person to have a compassionate answer for each life he/she touches. So, for my speech, please pass the salt!
J. Robert Hanson